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Man convicted of murdering his fiancé hours after proposing

|News, Violent crime

A man who brutally murdered his fiancé hours after proposing to her has today been convicted.

Mark Brandford, 49, killed his fiancé in a ferocious attack at some time between 16–17 December 2019.

Messages exchanged between 32-year-old Kayleigh Dunning and Brandford show that they had planned to spend an evening watching films and having dinner.

During the evening, the couple became engaged and Brandford shared pictures of this moment on social media.

However, at some point over the next few hours, Ms Dunning received numerous blows to her head and neck while she was in bed and died.

Despite Ms Dunning not going to work as planned or contacting any of her friends and family, Brandford only contacted police the following day when he returned home from work and claimed that an intruder had murdered his fiancé.

An investigation began which included detailed mobile phone analysis. It was discovered that in October 2018, Brandford had taken Ms Dunning’s phone and sent intimate photos of her to her colleagues, friends and family.

In July and August 2019, she received threatening messages from a different phone number controlled by Brandford while he continued to share intimate photos of her.

Ms Dunning had also been further traumatised by a fake Facebook account controlled by Brandford with intimate pictures of her.

Based on mobile phone data evidence pointing to Brandford and the recovery of a crowbar taken from his work lock-up, which the Crown says caused the injury, the jury at Portsmouth Crown Court has today found him guilty of murder and disclosure of private sexual images.

Lisa Garcia of the Crown Prosecution Service said: "Brandford’s actions show that he was clearly a controlling and jealous man. The messages and Facebook account demonstrate his need for control and a complete lack of respect for the woman he planned to spend the rest of his life with.

"We do not know what happened on the night of 16 December, only that at some point Brandford brutally murdered his fiancé in their bed and left for work the next day in a bid to hide what he had done.

“Investigators and the prosecution team worked together to dismantle his lies using mobile phone evidence and DNA from the scene which proved beyond doubt that Brandford was the only person responsible for the tragic death of Ms Dunning.”

Notes to editors

  • Lisa Garcia is a Senior Crown Prosecutor in CPS Wessex
  • Mark Brandford (24/05/1971) will be sentenced on Friday 26 February 2021
  • Kayleigh Dunning died aged 32 years old.

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