South East Wales

Maria Louise Hopes jailed for life for husband's murder

Maria Louise Hopes and son Leon Port Image copyright South Wales Police
Image caption Maria Louise Hopes and her son Leon Port were found guilty of murder

A woman from Rhondda Cynon Taff who murdered her husband in a "sustained, nasty and brutal" attack with her son has been jailed for life.

Maria Louise Hopes, 46, and her son Leon Port, 24, were both found guilty of murdering Mark Hopes, 45, at the couple's home in Trealaw last October.

Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court heard the pair blamed each other for the killing.

Hopes must serve a minimum of 17 years in prison.

Port was found guilty of Mr Hopes's murder and jailed for life last month - he must serve a minimum of 18 years.

The court previously heard Mr Hopes was beaten to death on 2 October 2015 and suffered significant external and internal injuries to his head, face and body in an attack which lasted several hours following an argument between him and Port.

Port said he only threw punches and claimed his mother delivered the fatal blows with a weapon.

Hopes blamed her son and said her clothes were only covered in blood because she tried to clean her husband up.

But the jury heard attempts were made to dispose of the evidence as blood was found on a mop and an outside drain.

Mr Hopes's death was only discovered the next day when Port called 999 and told the operator he had returned home injured after a night out drinking.

Christopher Quinlan QC, prosecuting, said Hopes and Port were equally culpable.

The court heard Hopes and her husband had a violent relationship at times and Christopher Clee QC, defending, said she had been the victim of domestic assault at Mr Hopes's hands in 2013.

Judge Sir Robin Knowles QC said the attack was a "sustained, nasty and brutal beating" which had amounted to a "miserable crime".

Although the pair had a violent history, Judge Knowles said the murder was "not a case of an instance where one partner eventually snaps after years of abuse from the other".

He accepted it was not premeditated on Hopes's part and she joined in with the attack after it had already started.

Hopes was also sentenced to 16 months for perverting the course of justice.

Port was previously sentenced to 21 months for the same offence, to run concurrently, while his girlfriend Rebecca Donovan, 24, of Mountain Ash, was also given a 16-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mr Hopes's sister Yvonne Smith described him as a loving father and grandfather who had a "heart of gold".

She said the family had been devastated by his death, adding: "It is heartbreaking to know that he will never be there to make us smile and laugh again."

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