Man jailed for life for murder - Reading

23/05/2012

A man has been sentenced to life imprisonment at Reading Crown Court today, Wednesday, 23 May 2012, after being convicted of murdering his ex-partner.

Joaquim Luis Marrafa, aged 46, from Coronation Square, Reading, pleaded not guilty to murdering Sandra Maralhas, aged 38, at their home in Coronation Square, Reading, on 11 November 2011.

After a two-week trial at Reading Crown Court, the jury found him guilty of murder by a unanimous verdict and he was sentenced to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of 14-years.

At 1.45pm on 11 November, Marrafa walked in to the front office of Reading police station and told a member of front counter staff that that he wished to report a crime.

He went on to explain to officers that he had killed his girlfriend at the home they shared in Coronation Square by strangling her and demonstrated how he had done this by placing both of his hands around his neck.

Officers were despatched to the address and forced entry. The body of Sandra Maralhas was found in a bedroom. Despite attempts to revive her by police officers and paramedics, she was pronounced dead at the scene.

While being booked into custody having been arrested on suspicion of murder, Marrafa declined the services of a solicitor, saying he didn't need one because he was guilty.

During interview, where he had legal representation and the services of an interpreter, he refused to answer any questions or give any comment. He was subsequently charged with murder and remanded in custody until his trial, when he pleaded not guilty.

The court heard from a number of witnesses, including Sandra's son, who said Marrafa and his mother, who met in Portugal, had had a turbulent relationship for 12-years and Marrafa was often violent to her and her children. Sandra left Marrafa in July or August 2011 because of his behaviour, and Marrafa had subsequently threatened to kill her.

In his defence, Marrafa admitted killing Ms Maralhas by strangling her, but pleaded not guilty to murder, as he claimed he had no memory of the attack and that he was suffering from depression. The jury did not believe his account and he was found guilty by a unanimous verdict, and sentenced by the judge to life imprisonment.