Tears of a killer: Abusive boyfriend, 24, who strangled mother-of-five and then mutilated her body ‘beyond description’ sobs as he’s arrested in video released after he is found guilty of murder
- Stephen Charlton is filmed sobbing as he is arrested for murdering his girlfriend
- The 24-year-old cries on the sofa and in the police station in Middlesbrough
- Police released video after he was found guilty of murdering Natalie Saunders
- Ms Saunders was strangled and her body was left with 85 separate injuries
A murderer is filmed breaking down in tears after he was arrested by police for strangling his partner to death at their home.
Bare-chested Stephen Charlton is shown sobbing on the sofa in his living room and later in police custody as he is held for killing mother of five Natalie Saunders.
Ms Saunders, 33, was found dead at a semi-detached home in Brambles Farm, Middlesbrough, with injuries so severe she was compared to car crash victim.
Cleveland Police have released footage of his arrest after he was found guilty of her murder at Teeside Crown Court.
Bare-chested Stephen Charlton is shown sobbing on the sofa in his living room and later in police custody as he is held for killing mother of five Natalie Saunders
The bearded 24-year-old cries as officers tell him he is being arrested on suspicion of her murder, and just half an hour later sobs again as he hunches over with his head on his knees.
Jurors were told Charlton he had subjected her to physical and emotional violence during the course of their relationship.
Her body was found on October 7 and had over 85 injuries, three blows to her face, 13 to her head and neck, 23 to her torso, and 25 to her lower limbs.
Prosecutor Peter Makepeace QC had told jurors that the murder was committed by someone who had ‘completely lost control’ and her body was ‘mutilated beyond description.’
The bearded 24-year-old cries as officers tell him he is being arrested on suspicion of her murder, and just half an hour later sobs again as he hunches over with his head on his knees
He said the injuries were so severe that she looked like she had been involved in a road traffic accident, hit by a truck.
‘This was not a static situation,’ he said. ‘She was struggling, she was fighting and trying to defend herself.’
The court heard that during the ‘unrestrained violence’, Ms Saunders, who was only nine stone, had injuries from 10 blows that she had deflected.
He added that after the ‘powerful blows’ were received from kicks and punches, she had the ‘life squeezed out of her’ when she was strangled.
Ms Saunders was described to the jury as being ‘utterly incapable of defending herself’ and was ‘habitually conditioned to being a punching bag’ at the hands of others.
The court heard that during the ‘unrestrained violence’, Ms Saunders, who was only nine stone, had injuries from 10 blows that she had deflected. Pictured: Charlton after he was arrested by police
Mr Makepeace said she had been terrorised and had come to accept abuse as ‘the norm’ after entering into a series of abusive relationships.
He explained that an appointment card for the My Sister’s Place domestic abuse centre in Middlesbrough was found in her handbag.
The appointment was scheduled for October 11 – four days after her death.
The jury was told that if Natalie went for help or advice, Charlton ‘threatened to kill her, and he did exactly that’.
Jurors were told Charlton (left) had subjected Ms Saunders (right) to physical and emotional violence during the course of their relationship. Her body was found on October 7 and had over 85 injuries, three blows to her face, 13 to her head and neck, 23 to her torso, and 25 to her lower limbs
Defence barrister Nicolas Lumley QC said Natalie ‘did not deserve’ to die and that there was ‘no question this was a tragic and needless death’.
Charlton had claimed Natalie was killed by an intruder.
Natalie’s family paid tribute to her last year saying: ‘We are deeply heartbroken at this difficult time.
‘Natalie was a beautiful lady and we will miss her.’
Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Sarah Robinson said: ‘No-one should live in fear and be subjected to emotional or physical violence.
‘If this case strikes a chord with anyone please seek the help and support that is out there.
‘Friends, neighbours and members of the public have given evidence in court detailing what life was like for Natalie living with domestic violence, however, for her own reasons she would not previously support any action against Charlton. T
The house were Ms Saunders was murdered is surrounded by police tape after her death in October last year
‘Natalie’s family have shown immense courage throughout the investigation, unlike Charlton who despite overwhelming evidence subjected her family to sitting through a trial.
‘Her family should not have had to listen to a pathologist detail more than 85 separate injuries that were inflicted on Natalie prior to her being strangled to death.
‘Cleveland Police, alongside Natalie’s family, would like to thank all those that have stood up to Charlton by providing statements and giving evidence.’
Lorraine Cooper, senior crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: ‘This case highlights the very real dangers faced by those in abusive domestic relationships.
‘For reasons of her own, Natalie Saunders chose to remain with Stephen Charlton, despite the physical violence and emotional abuse that he would often inflict upon her.
‘In October of last year Charlton subjected Natalie to a final physical assault, one which tragically took her life.
‘The significant catalogue of injuries he delivered clearly demonstrated his propensity for physical violence and his lack of control over his own rage.
‘I sincerely hope that his conviction today for murder provides some measure of comfort for Natalie’s family, at what must be an incredibly difficult time for them.’
Charlton is due to be sentenced on later at Teesside Crown Court.
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