Boyfriend convicted in Beth Aspey murder case
A woman’s boyfriend has been convicted of killing her in an alcohol-fuelled fight just weeks after she told a friend she was looking for an ‘escape route’ out of their relationship.
On 30 April this year, paramedics were called to 34-year-old Beth Aspey’s home in Reading where they found her lifeless on her bathroom floor.
At the time, her boyfriend Ben Shand, 45, suggested to police and paramedics that Ms Aspey had probably died after a fall. He said that he had spent the night at his girlfriend’s flat, left the building the following afternoon to go to the shop, realised he had forgotten to bring a key and so rang the doorbell. Receiving no response, he climbed in through the bedroom window and found Ms Aspey’s body in the bathroom.
Shand was staying in his girlfriend’s flat while his own home was being renovated. Texts recovered from Ms Aspey’s phone suggest she relished her independence and wanted Shand to move out as soon as possible; neighbours claim to have heard the couple arguing over similar matters in the month leading up to Ms Aspey’s death.
Months after being charged with his girlfriend’s murder, Shand, faced with mounting evidence against him, admitted that his story about leaving the flat was untrue. He maintained that his reason for lying was that he was in shock and realised he was under suspicion due to the circumstances. He continued to deny that he had killed Ms Aspey.
However, during the trial at Reading Crown Court, the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed that there was no scientific evidence to suggest a different attacker was in the bathroom at the time of the assault. And post-mortem evidence presented by prosecutors showed that Ms Aspey had multiple injuries consistent with a sustained assault, including being repeatedly hit on the head with a weapon. The pathologist who carried out the post-mortem confirmed Ms Aspey could not have obtained her injuries just by falling, as previously suggested by Shand.
Today (17 December) a jury found Shand guilty of murder.
Lawyer Victoria Forbes of the Crown Prosecution Service said: “A young woman tragically lost her life to a senseless act of violence, while her killer made deliberate attempts to cover his tracks.
“We are pleased to see that the strength of the evidence we presented has led to a successful prosecution. We hope this verdict will bring a sense of justice to Beth’s loved ones, even though it cannot undo the heartbreaking loss they have suffered.
"No one should have to live at risk of abuse or violence from their partner, and we are committed to prosecuting crimes of domestic abuse and violence against women."
Notes to editors
- Ben Shand (D.O.B. 02.05.1976) was convicted of murder at Reading Crown Court on 17 December 2021. He will be sentenced on Monday 20 December at Reading Crown Court.
- Victoria Forbes is a Senior Crown Prosecutor for the CPS Thames and Chiltern.