Updated: Friday, 5th June 2020 @ 4:07pm

Spurned Oldham lover jailed for battering ex to death then pretending to be her in texts

Spurned Oldham lover jailed for battering ex to death then pretending to be her in texts

| By Tommy Wilson

A jealous lover who 'catastrophically' battered his former partner to death before sending text messages pretending to be from her has been jailed for life today.

Steven Dunks, 45, from Oldham attacked Lynne Howarth using 'terrible force' at her home in Heywood, Greater Manchester after she began a new relationship, and was sentenced to a minimum of 19 years imprisonment at Manchester Crown Court.

The jury heard how Dunks of Milnrow Road, Shaw, was involved in a volatile on-and-off relationship with 43-year-old Howarth for 18 months and was dating a second woman at the time, but couldn't come to terms with her finding a new partner.

Detective Chief Inspector Richard Eales said: “Dunks was quite happy to string along two women at the same time, but the thought of her moving on with her life and finding a new partner sent him into a terrible rage.

“He ended her life in one of the most violent ways I have seen as a detective, using enough force to cause catastrophic damage to her head and face.

“He then left her body to rot in the home they had shared, taking her sim card and cash cards with him so he could steal her money and trick her friends and family into thinking she was still alive."

In July 2014, Lynne told her neighbours that they would no longer be seeing Dunks around, as the pair had split and he was looking for somewhere else to live.

In mid-July Howarth, who suffered from agoraphobia, met a new boyfriend on an internet dating site and started to go on dates, often arriving back at her flat on her new partner’s motorbike.

In the early hours of Friday July 18 2014, a drunken Dunks confronted both Howarth and her new boyfriend at her flat, screaming that he would “jump up and down on his head” and that he “would rather see her dead before seeing her with someone else”.

He murdered her a week later on Sunday July 27, launching into a prolonged violent attack that shattered Howarth's face and detached her jaw bone from the rest of her skull.

Over the next month Dunks spoke briefly to Howarth’s new partner and mother via Facebook and text message to cover his tracks, while also stealing £300 from her credit card.

Mobile network data showed that between July 27 and August 27, Howarth’s sim card was used in a number of different mobile phones located mainly in Shaw.

This was highly unusual, as Ms Howarth, suffered from agoraphobia meaning she rarely ever left Heywood.

It was not until Tuesday August 26 that Howarth’s body was discovered, following complaints of a foul smell and swarms of flies on the windows of her flat.

Officers attended and found her badly decomposed body, with a blood-stained exfoliating glove that contained Dunks DNA profile inside.

Dunks denied murdering her, claiming she was asleep in bed when he left that morning.

“Lynn was limited by her anxiety and fear of open spaces, she did not travel far from her flat and her social life was led mainly online and through mobile phone,” said Detective Chief Inspector Eales.

“Dunks knew that, and that is why he thought to try and cover his tracks by using her Facebook account and mobile phone to contact those people who were going to be most worried about her.

“Think of what that have must have been like for her mother, thinking that she was exchanging text messages with her daughter when in reality she was communicating with the man who had brutally murdered Lynn weeks earlier.

“I hope this sentence can go some way to comforting Lynn’s family during this tremendously difficult time.”

If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse you can end the fear and get help. You can get in contact with the Women’s Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0161 636 7525 or the Men’s Advice Line on 0808 8010327.

To report domestic abuse to police dial 101, always call 999 in an emergency.