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Man locked up over strangulation death; he admits manslaughter of mum he saw casually.

Byline: IAN JOHNSON and POPPY KENNEDY @TeessideLive

A KILLER who accidentally choked his vulnerable lover to death during sex is behind bars.

Sam Pybus admitted taking mumof-two Sophie Moss's life.

Her death, Teesside Crown Court heard, had left her family "completely stricken with grief ".

Pybus had denied murder, but pleaded guilty to manslaughter after accepting carrying out the unlawful killing of the 33-year-old.

Pybus, of Water View, Middleton St George, was handed a four-yearand-eight-month jail term.

Yesterday's sentencing hearing was told that Pybus was a married man who had been seeing Miss Moss behind his wife's back.

The pair had been having casual sex for three years, and on the night of her death, Pybus waited for his wife to go to bed before sneaking off to see her.

The 31-year-old, who had been drinking heavily at home, contacted Sophie and arranged to go to her flat on the evening of February 6.

Previously, the court heard that Pybus accepted he "applied hand pressure to the neck" of his lover on that fateful night.

And in police interview, Pybus claimed he had a history of placing pressure on her neck - claiming she had encouraged and enjoyed it.

Pybus claimed he had little recollection of the events but recalled his hands hurting.

Rather than trying to save his lover's life, the court was told that Pybus instead "spent about 15 minutes in his car considering his options, during which time he had not sought to render first aid to Sophie nor had he sought any emergency medical assistance for her".

A pathologist's report found her injuries, although fatal, were at the lower end of the scale, with Sophie sustaining minor bruising.

The court was told her injuries "do not suggest a very prolonged or very forceful strangulation or strangulation that was continued with resistance". There were no other signs of violence, nor did he have any reason to kill her.

His barrister, Sam Green QC argued it was "inconceivable" that he would have carried on the way he had if he knew of the consequences.

"We accept that from a moral perspective the defendant should have summoned immediate medical emergency assistance and does not do so. He dwells on it for some time before going to a police station. That very much is not to his credit," said

Mr Green QC.

He said the mitigating features included a lack of premeditation and the presence of "very real remorse".

Mr Green said Pybus did not show the emotion of selfpity. "It is the emotion of disgust and the difficulty living with himself for what he has done," he said.

Sam Pybus manslaughter Moss in Darlington

An earlier hearing was told Pybus "had no intention of harming her or causing injury", and that he drove to Darlington Police Station himself to alert officers to Sophie's death.

He told officers that he believed he had fatally strangled her after being invited to her home in the early hours of that morning.

However in a moving statement read out in court, her brother James said: "To put into words the impact the tragic death of my beloved sister Sophie has had on me and my family seems impossible." He described her growing up as joyous and vibrant, funny, talented and fearless - and that losing a sister was like losing part of himself He said on their last call on the Sunday before she died, he said she sounded happy. "My sadness is too overwhelming... more than anything I miss her and I miss her love. Every day with my entire being.

"I would give anything to hear her laugh again," added James.

admitted the of Sophie

He said their mum did everything she could to support Sophie and says she is "completely stricken with grief" and "utterly heartbroken". James described how their father suffers with dementia and struggles to remember one moment from the next. Despite everything he faces, Sophie's brother said they decided to tell him a watered down version of events and says he was "instantly traumatised" before half forgetting and moments later remembering something was wrong and they'd have to go through it again.

"It has shaken him so much it has become the only thing he has even part-registered for years," said James.

He said thinking about Sophie's young children growing up without their mummy and inevitably one day finding out the horrifying cause of her death is extremely difficult.

"Somehow we must come to terms with never knowing the full circumstances, and being unable to continue to help her, and the fact that her troubles will remain unresolved forever.

"Perhaps the hardest thing to come to terms with, and a massive part of the impact on our family, is the suspicion that Sam Pybus' actions were born only from a desire of self-gratification. And since her death, self interest and preservation." He said Sophie was an extremely lonely and vulnerable person even before the pandemic. "We will never be able to shake the belief that whatever the nature of their relationship and her role in it that she was a victim - taken advantage of and exploited," he said.

A statement was also read out in court by Sophie's former partner, Daniel Parkington, the father of her two children.

It said: "I've told the boys that their mummy was really sick, and in hospital unfortunately the doctors did everything they could to save her but she was too poorly. What else do I tell them?"

He said when they learn the truth that will bring questions and distrust. Jailing Pybus, Judge Paul Watson said: "Sophie was someone who suffered from her own disabilities and her own vulnerabilities. I also find that this was a case in which at the time you were voluntarily intoxicated - unable to judge the situation" "Sophie was a much-loved mother, daughter and sister and her death has devastated her entire family. The sense of loss of Sophie has been...immeasurable."

He added: "It was, in my judgement, obviously dangerous conduct whether consensual or otherwise."

Speaking after the hearing Det Chief Insp Andy Reynolds said: "This was a difficult and complex investigation, and our thoughts remain with Sophie's family and friends at this difficult time.

"Although nothing can ever bring Sophie back, I hope today's result will offer them some comfort and help them to come to terms with their devastating loss."


Sam Pybus admitted the manslaughter of Sophie Moss in Darlington

Sophie Moss
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Author:IAN JOHNSON and POPPY KENNEDY @TeessideLive
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Sep 8, 2021
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