South East Wales

Tracey Woodford murder: Christopher May jailed for life

Christopher May and Tracey Woodford Image copyright Wales News Service/Handout
Image caption Christopher May met Tracey Woodford in a pub in Pontypridd

A "cruel and callous" ex-butcher who killed and dismembered a woman before carrying her severed head through a town to hide it has been jailed for life.

The mutilated body of Tracey Woodford, 47, was found at 50-year-old Christopher May's flat in Pontypridd, Rhondda Cynon Taff, in April.

He was found guilty of murder at Cardiff Crown Court on Wednesday.

On Friday, May was told he will serve at least 28 years in prison.

Members of Ms Woodford's family, who have been in court throughout the trial, cried "yes" as sentence was passed.

Mrs Justice Nicola Davies branded May a dangerous sexual predator, adding: "Your murder of Tracey Woodford was cruel, callous and determined.

"These same characteristics prompted you to dismember the body of Tracey and then deliberately conceal it.

"This was done for one reason - to avoid detection for the murder you knew you had committed.

"You embarked on this with little thought for your victim and still less for that of her family whose grief for their daughter and sister was made more anguished by the grim dismemberment of her body."

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Tracey Woodford's family outside Cardiff Crown Court

Her family said they were "heartbroken" and struggling to cope in victim impact statements, read during a mitigation hearing on Thursday ahead of May's sentencing.

Her mother Linda Woodford said she "felt like I was living in a nightmare" when police told her that her daughter's remains had been found and identified through her fingerprints.

"He has torn my family apart. He has destroyed us totally," she said.

Ms Woodford's brother Sean added: "I'm now angry every day. I struggle to sleep most nights."

Image copyright South Wales Police

May always claimed he had either been acting in self defence or had lost control.

But prosecutors said the murder was motivated by a "perverted sexual desire" after the pair met at the Skinny Dog pub in the town on 21 April.

Some of Ms Woodford's remains were found at May's flat by two police officers carrying out routine inquiries three days after she had been reported missing.

Her decapitated torso was recovered from a black bag in a kitchen cupboard and a right thumb was found in a handbag along with a purse with Ms Woodford's bank cards.

Her head was discovered in an "underground chamber" of a storm drain at the Sardis Road rugby ground - home to Pontypridd RFC.

The jury was told Ms Woodford, who lived with her brother and mother, had been strangled by May, who was "determined and cold blooded".

Malcom Bishop QC, defending, said there was "no evidence of sadistic conduct".

Image copyright South Wales Police
Image caption The entrance to the storm drain where Ms Woodford's head was displayed
Image copyright South Wales Police
Image caption The bathroom where Ms Woodford's dismembered body was found

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