Man will serve minimum 20 years for beating partner to death with crowbar

A man has been jailed for a minimum of 20 years for the brutal murder of a mother of one.

Benjamin Topping, 25, was given a life sentence at Preston Crown Court after he admitted killing partner Rosie Darbyshire, 27, a spokesman for Lancashire Police said.

Police said Topping was seen by a man and a woman attacking Miss Darbyshire (pictured) with a crowbar in Pope Lane, Preston, at 2am on February 7.

He continued to hit her as she lay unconscious on the ground and then chased the couple from the scene, later throwing his weapon at a third witness.

Topping, of St George’s Road in Preston, spat at the officer who detained him when he was arrested shortly afterwards.

Lancashire Police said Miss Darbyshire had been beaten “beyond recognition” and a post-mortem examination showed she had injuries from at least 50 separate blows, as well as bruising and cuts to her arms and hands from trying to defend herself.

In a statement, Miss Darbyshire’s family said: “We are relieved that a guilty plea has been given. No sentence will ever feel enough to show the value of Rosie’s life and the loss we feel.

“Now we are no longer stuck in limbo we will try to live our new reality and ensure that Rosie’s son lives a happy life and will always share memories of his beautiful mum.”

Detective Chief Inspector Geoff Hurst, who led the investigation, said: “This was a senseless murder where a talented, defenceless young lady needlessly lost her life in the most appalling way. What’s worse is that she died close to the community where she lived.

“Ben Topping is a dangerous individual who attacked Rosie with such savagery she was unrecognisable and died almost straightaway. He has left a nine-year-old boy without a mother and a family who will never be the same again.

“I am pleased that he has pleaded guilty, sparing Rosie’s family the further trauma of having to sit through a trial.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Lancashire Constabulary / PA Wire.