Tees

Man jailed for life for murder of mother-of-five

Stephen Charlton Image copyright Cleveland Police
Image caption Stephen Charlton had only known Ms Saunders for six weeks

A man has been jailed for life for murdering a mother-of-five at the home they shared in Middlesbrough.

Natalie Saunders, 33, died in October after being beaten and then strangled by her partner Stephen Charlton, 24.

Teesside Crown Court was told Charlton, who denied murder, subjected her to physical and emotional violence during their brief six-week relationship.

Judge Stephen Ashurst told Charlton, of Tomlinson Way, he would serve a minimum term of 21 years in prison.

Charlton was convicted on Thursday by a jury who took less than two hours to reach a verdict.

Image copyright Cleveland Police
Image caption Natalie Saunders' family described her as a "beautiful lady"

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said the case highlighted the "very real dangers" faced by those in abusive domestic relationships.

The court was told Ms Saunders had suffered previously at the hands of violent partners.

Ms Saunders' family said domestic violence had "taken a precious life" and left them serving its own life sentence.

A statement added: "No other family should have to experience what we have and more importantly, no other person should have to suffer, especially in silence."

Charlton also had previous convictions for robbery and criminal damage.

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