JAYDEN Parkinson’s mother wept openly yesterday after Ben Blakeley was found guilty of her daughter’s murder.
The 22-year-old killer walked out of the dock, slamming the door behind him as the jury convicted him in a case described as the first of its kind.
Blakeley strangled his ex-girlfriend and, in a decision described as unique by the police, buried her body in the grave of his uncle Alan Kennedy.
After 20 hours and 11 minutes of deliberations at Oxford Crown Court, the jury decided by a majority of 11-1 that he either intended to kill the 17-year-old or cause her really serious harm.
The decision arrived at just after 4.10pm, as Judge Patrick Eccles was preparing to send the jury home for a sixth time after they failed to reach a decision.
In a tense, packed courtroom the foreman read out the verdict and there were gasps and tears from Jayden’s family and friends in the public gallery.
The teenager’s mum Samantha Shrewsbury, 47, left the court weeping in the arms of a police family liaison officer while sobbing “my baby”.
Speaking after the hearing the senior investigating officer in the case, Det Supt Chris Ward, said he hoped the verdict would help bring closure to Jayden’s family. Her father Paul died of a suspected heart attack as the case was about to come to trial.
Det Supt Ward gave a short statement outside the court and said he was happy to see Blakeley convicted.
He said: “Jayden Parkinson’s life was taken from her and today somebody was found guilty of her murder.
“I welcome the verdict and that Ben Blakeley has been found guilty.
“Jayden’s family are extremely pleased. This is the start for them to get some closure.”
He said as far as police were aware it was the first case in which a body had been discovered after being buried in an existing grave.
Det Supt Ward added: “It’s extremely unique.”
And Det Ch Supt Andy Murray, head of force crime, said even police officers were stunned by the location of Jayden’s body.
He said: “I think everybody, including police officers, were shocked and surprised.
“As far as we are aware this is the only known instance of police discovering a body in such circumstances in an existing grave.”
During the five-week trial the jury heard evidence about Ben Blakeley’s controlling, abusive and violent relationship with Jayden.
Staff at the One Foot Forward hostel, in Iffley Road, Oxford, said the day before Blakeley killed her, Jayden told him she was pregnant with his child.
On December 3 last year the pair went to a footbridge in open countryside near Upton, where the murder took place.
The jury, after five days of deliberating, has not yet returned a verdict on the charge against his brother Jake, 17, of preventing Jayden’s unlawful burial.
Judge Eccles told it to return today to continue considering the case.
He also said Ben Blakeley would be sentenced this morning.
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