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Ex-policeman is guilty of killing his pregnant lover; We have lost a loving daughter, the children have lost a caring mother, and we can never bring her back. Walker has been convicted of murder, but he will never suffer as much as us Statement by John and Margaret Bailey, parents of victim Audra Bancroft.

Byline: Emily Andrews

A former Staffordshire policeman who savagely beat and strangled his pregnant lover was jailed for life yesterday.

Gary Walker (40), of Shipley Close, Burton upon Trent, was told he must serve at least 13 years before being considered for parole for killing divorced mother-of-three Audra Bancroft at the home they shared.

Stafford Crown Court also heard Walker was forced to resign from Staffordshire Police following an off-duty fight at a nightclub in Derby.

Walker, who denied murder, had been serving with Avon and Somerset Police when he was arrested for Mrs Bancroft's killing last December and had not informed the force of his previous resignation.

Walker said in evidence that he and Mrs Bancroft had gone to a pub but she left after an argument and he went home. He said he went out looking for her and found her lying bleeding on a pavement.

He claimed he caught her in the face during a row and she fell back and hit a wall.

She died in hospital several days later.

Judge Justice Tucker told Walker: 'The jury has unanimously convicted you of the murder of your 36-year-old partner. I have no doubt that you savagely attacked her. You caused injury to her brain as a result of that assault during which you grabbed her by the throat for a significant time.

'You not only killed her at a young age but three young children have been deprived of their mother and her parents of their daughter. You did not intend to kill but you intended to cause serious bodily harm. There was also a lack of premeditation but I do not agree that you were provoked in any way.'

Rachel Brand QC, prosecuting, said Walker was facing two other charges - one of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and the other of making a false declaration when he applied to join Avon and Somerset Police.

She said: 'Because of his conviction for murder we have reached a decision not to proceed with these charges but let them lie on the court file,' she said.

Mr Patrick Thomas QC, defending, said: 'The intention was to cause serious bodily harm rather than to kill. There was a lack of premeditation because it seems to have boiled up in a short period until he saw her in the street and must have attacked her there. There was also a lack of a weapon and he called for help for her not once, but twice.'

The prosecution said a pathologist found 26 areas of bruising and grazing on Mrs Bancroft's body, a fractured nose and brain damage. But pathologist, Professor Guy Rutty, said he could not find a cause of death.

After the case Mrs Bancroft's parents John and Margaret Bailey, released a statement, which said: 'Until four years ago, our daughter Audra seemed to be a happily married mother with three wonderful children.

'It was then she met Gary Walker, a policeman - a member of society we are supposed to respect and look to for guidance.

'Audra seemed infatuated with this man, intoxicated with his manner and his way of life. We thought quite differently over the time they were together but kept quiet how we felt in case we lost her.

'The last ten months have been a long painful heartache for all of us and it will take a long time to heal the wounds. We have lost a loving daughter, the children have lost a caring mother, and we can never bring her back. Walker has been convicted of murder, but he will never suffer as much as us.'

Senior investigating officer, Chief Inspector David Garrett, said: 'This was a difficult case to investigate because of the different stories Walker told to detectives investigating the murder.

'He had tried to cover his tracks of what he had done. Before Audra was taken to hospital, he had washed the clothes they had both worn that night. A suitcase lay open on the bed. And, when the ambulance had arrived at the house, he ran to Andrew Bancroft's house, Audra's ex-husband, accusing him of beating her up.

'The tragic loss of a young mother is almost unbearable for her family to have to cope with.'


Audra Bancroft
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 23, 2004
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