'Ruthless' pair murdered Barnsley woman over necklace

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image copyrightSouth Yorkshire Police
image captionJustine Wainwright and Penelope Brownlie were convicted of murder after a trial

Two "cruel and callous" killers who murdered a woman they thought held information about a stolen necklace have been jailed for life.

Clare Louise Smith, 42, was beaten to death with a pickaxe handle by Justine Wainwright, 58, and Penelope Brownlie, 45, at a flat in Barnsley in May 2018.

Wainwright and Brownlie were convicted of murder after a trial at Sheffield Crown Court.

The women, both from Barnsley, were jailed for a minimum of 26 years.

The court heard Wainwright and Brownlie suspected Miss Smith was either involved in the theft of a gold necklace belonging to Brownlie or knew who was and on 18 May lured her to a flat in Britannia Close.

Judge Jeremy Richardson QC said once at the flat she was subjected to a "prolonged and exceptionally brutal beating", resulting in multiple injuries and fractures.

He said during the attack Miss Smith pleaded for the women to stop as she knew nothing about the theft.

He said her body was then taken from the flat and dumped just a few yards away in Union Street, where it was found the next day.

During the trial Wainwright denied killing Miss Smith, claiming she must have been attacked by someone else after leaving the flat.

image copyrightGoogle
image captionMiss Smith's body was found in Union Street, just yards from the flat in Britannia Close where she was killed

Jailing the women, he said: "You are two brutish women who have demonstrated a ruthless capability to visit relentless, extreme violence on a defenceless woman despite her pleading for you to stop.

"You were both callous and cruel. Your conduct bordered on the sadistic."

Det Insp Mark Oughton, of South Yorkshire Police, said: "The pair used extreme levels of violence to try to extract information from Miss Smith, which is sickening.

"She was killed because of the questions she could not answer. After murdering her, they unceremoniously dumped her body yards from their flat and then went about cleaning the address and disposing of evidence."

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