Lesbian who murdered girlfriend after starving and beating her for years given life sentence
A woman who beat her lesbian lover so badly that she looked “like the elephant man” has been given a life sentence for her murder.
Lyndsey Vaux, 30, died with 90 separate injuries after years of being assaulted, abused and starved.
Lyndsey, who had a 12-year-old daughter, was regularly punched, kicked and stamped on during five years with Becky Reid, 32, with none of her injuries ever being treated at a hospital.
Judge Richard Mansell QC yesterday handed down a sentence of life with a minimum of 20 years to Reid at Manchester Crown Court.
Addressing Reid, the judge said: “You took control of Lyndsey’s life to such an extent that she gradually withdrew from family and friends.
“It is perfectly clear that she loved you, but she feared you and your violent temper.
“You manipulated her emotions whilst justifying your own behaviour and you delivered regular and sustained beatings to her.
“You controlled the purse strings in that house and put yourself and your mother first – effectively starving Lyndsey who had to beg and forage for scraps of food.
“The violence you committed towards her was frequent, sustained, brutal and merciless. It was an exercise in control, dominance, punishment and denigration.
“She was too frightened to defy you, stand up to you or fight back.
“She was too frightened to accept the help offered her by the police and many locals and she was simply terrified to leave you.
“You have displayed no remorse for your actions.”
Horrifying CCTV footage released by the police and shown below captures Lyndsey in a local grocery store the day before her death, looking haggard and fearful.
The court heard how not long before her death, Lyndsey had told a friend about the regular, vicious beatings.
“I’ll be honest with you,” Lyndsey said. “Becky has battered me a few times – it’s been going on for years – but it’s got worse these last few months.
“It was just when Becky got angry, but it’s getting worse. Every couple of days I get a crack.
“I’ve got Becky hitting me, and the mum is just stood there letting it happen saying that I was the one in the wrong.
“Sometimes I get a punch or a couple of kicks; once I got pushed down the stairs.”
Becky’s mother, Gillian Reid, 57, was cleared of murder, but both her and her daughter were found guilty of assaulting Becky Reid ex-partner Samantha Newns.
The harrowing 999 call made by Gillian Reid after Lyndsey collapsed before her death was released by Greater Manchester Police yesterday.
It revealed Gillian Reid telling the operator that Lyndsey was making “gurgling noises,” “breathing slowly” and “turning blue”.
She never regained consciousness, and was pronounced dead on her arrival at Wigan Infirmary.
Gillian Reid was given a 12-month suspended sentence for committing actual bodily harm.
Judge Mansell told her that though she had been cleared of murder, she bore a “significant degree of moral blame” for Lyndsey’s death.
The judge spoke directly to Lyndsey’s daughter Aaliyah, 12, about her mum’s decision to move to Wigan without her, assuring her that her mum had loved her.
He said: “She was so under the control of Becky Reid at that time that her ability to make rational decisions had completely gone.
“I’m sure she still loved you and didn’t make that decision consciously. Your mother didn’t abandon you she was taken away from you by the actions of another person.”
Lyndsey was 16 stone when she first met Reid, the court was told, only for her weight to drop to half of this by the time she died.
One friend described her as “looking like the Elephant Man” after one of the beatings, while another said it was like she had been “hit by a bus”.
A neighbour told the court that Lyndsey “looked like she was dead already.”
Michelle Gartland, who gave a statement to the police after Lyndsey died, said she once saw Reid stamp on Lyndsey’s face using her “whole body weight”.
Witnesses said that while she was alive, they saw a “gaunt” Lyndsey wandering up and down the alleyway behind her house in a dressing gown after being sent out of the house.
“She would often be seen walking around the streets without shoes or appropriate clothing, sometimes in flip-flops and T-shirt in the pouring rain,” the prosecutor told the court.
“She would appear to be trying to get back into the house, and it would seem that somebody within was refusing her entry.”
The prosecutor added: “The manageress at the local One Stop shop saw Lyndsey on the store CCTV climbing into the large bins at the back of the store, removing food that had been discarded owing to it being past the sell-by date.
“She also saw her in the early hours one morning on her hands and knees collecting cigarette stumps from outside the shop.”
The court was told that Gillian Reid told one of Lyndsey’s friends, Paige Falla, that she and her daughter had been “trying to get rid of Lyndsey for six years” before she died in May last year.
Hours before she died, local resident Kevin O’Leary said he saw Vaux with blood “all around her mouth,” standing barefoot on the gravel road.
Later that same night, another local, Mark Hoppley, said he saw Vaux lying on the road in front of his car.
The prosecution noted that the witness “then checked outside at regular intervals, noticing each time that Lyndsey had moved slightly towards her own house but was still on the ground.
“Then he heard a dragging noise and on looking out again saw her legs being dragged along the floor towards her house.
“He could not tell whether she was dragging herself or being dragged by another person. The door to number 23 (Sydney Street) then slammed shut”.
Sarah Fallows, a close neighbour, said that at 5:23am, right before a call was made to the paramedics about Vaux, she was woken by excessive banging followed by a scream.
Robert Atherton, a neighbour, said he was awoken at around 4am by the sound of Becky Reid “shouting and ordering Lyndsey back to the house”.
Lyndsey died at 6.27am.
Becky Reid also assaulted Newns, now 37, “about 50 times” over the course of their relationship, the court heard.
The prosecutor said that Reid forced Newns to beg her friends and family for money, otherwise she would be beaten up.
One assault allegedly stopped only when Becky Reid’s sister and her partner arrived, who told Becky and her mother: “What have you done to her? She’s stopped breathing”.
Newns’ mother and sister said they did not recognise her afterwards, due to her injuries.
Terrified, she left Reid, deciding that “enough was enough,” the court was told.
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Senior Investigating Officer Bob Tonge said: “Lyndsey Vaux was subjected to years of horrific domestic abuse at the hands of her girlfriend, and no decision made here today can bring her back.
“Some neighbours knew about this abuse and did nothing.
“Had they given us the information that they gave us after Lyndsey’s murder then we could have saved her life, and this should act as a stark reminder that we all have a responsibility to stand up to this kind of crime.
“We’re working extremely hard to tackle domestic abuse in the LGBT community, having introduced a specific recording method to track it and taking our front line officers through training on how best to support victims, but we do need the public’s help to continue to tackle domestic abuse in all of our communities.
“My thoughts are with Lyndsey’s family at this difficult time, and I hope this sentence goes some way to finding them justice.
“We take all reports of domestic abuse extremely seriously. Victims in the LGBT community, and those worried about member of the LGBT community, can call Galop on 0800 999 5428.”
Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Refuge (www.refuge.org.uk) or Women’s Aid (www.womensaid.org.uk). Both charities run the 24-hour, freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline, 0808 2000 247. The US National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).