THE man who strangled Scarborough hairdresser Laura Smith was jailed for life yesterday after being convicted of her murder.
Nigel Pickard, 45, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 15 years before he will be considered for release.
During the five-day trial at Leeds Crown Court he denied choking to death Miss Smith, 29, at her home in Southwold Rise, Eastfield, in July last year.
However, after two days of deliberation, the jury delivered a majority guilty verdict.
Judge Scott Wolstenholme told Pickard he was a “bitter and resentful” man who had intended to kill Miss Smith.
He said: “This is a particularly sad case. You have not only deprived a 29-year-old woman of her life but you have deprived your daughter of her mother – and deprived Laura’s parents of their only child, and the suffering spreads to grandparents and other members of the family.
“She tried to make it clear to you that your relationship with her was over. But it was clear she wanted you to remain fully involved in your daughter’s life.
“You were bitter and resentful of the break-up of the relationship and obsessed that she was carrying on with another man.
“You wallowed in self-pity and put further emotional pressure on Laura.
“Your anger, resentment and jealousy boiled over, you grabbed her by the throat, then applied a headlock to her.
“You squeezed the life out of her. I am satisfied that you held her in a headlock and it was your intention to kill her.”
Judge Wolstenholme said he hoped the couple’s one-year-old daughter Olivia would not be emotionally affected by the trauma of being so close to the horrific events of that day.
He added: “The little girl was in the room where you began your attack.
“This has added a dimension of horror to the suffering of the family. One hopes there will be no memory of what happened and that it won’t affect Olivia when she grows up.”
The jury was told how Pickard, of Filey Road, had strangled Miss Smith after their relationship ended.
The court heard Pickard, a driving instructor who ran the Driving Ambition School of Motoring in Scarborough, grabbed Miss Smith by the throat just feet from their seven-month-old daughter Olivia before angrily strangling her in a headlock causing her 55 separate injuries.
Speaking to the Evening News immediately after the decision, Miss Smith’s parents, Trish and Colin Smith, said that although nothing could bring their daughter back, they were relieved her killer had been brought to justice.
Detective Inspector Andrea Kell, from the Protecting Vulnerable Persons Unit , said she was happy the jury had seen through Pickard’s “tissue of lies.”
She said: “I am extremely pleased with the verdict.
“There was never any doubt that Pickard was responsible for Laura’s death. He killed her following the breakdown of their relationship.
“However, he consistently denied that he intended to kill her.
“The jury have seen through his tissue of lies, finding him guilty of a vicious attack resulting in the death of a vibrant and very popular young woman.
“He now has no choice but to face up to the consequences of his terrible actions.
“Laura’s parents have been left absolutely devastated by the death of their only child.
“I hope that the outcome will provide a small measure of comfort as they try to rebuild their lives.”