Ralph Fairman, 51, appeared at Hove Crown Court to be sentenced on Tuesday (February 12) after pleading guilty to manslaughter with diminished responsibility.
He was sentenced to life to serve a minimum of nine years. He will only be released if and when he is deemed suitable by the parole board. He will remain on licence for the rest of his life.
The victim, 47-year-old Samantha Toms, was tragically found dead by officers in her home in Field End, Maresfield on Thursday morning, July 5 2018.
Police received a call from the Metropolitan Police around 7.20am of that morning, requesting an urgent welfare check on Samantha’s house in East Sussex. The Met had been called by one of Fairman’s family to raise concerns for Samantha. Fairman had phoned his family member and confessed to killing his partner and asked for help removing her body; they refused and immediately raised their concerns with police.
When officers attended Samantha’s home on the morning of July 5, she was found dead having been smothered. Fairman was nowhere to be seen and it was quickly discovered that the black Mini Cooper they shared was missing from the driveway.
A quick search on vehicle’s registration plate traced the Mini Cooper to the A264 in Crawley Down.
Officers tracked the vehicle onto the A22 in Ashurst Wood, near East Grinstead, a tactical stop was conducted near the Newchapel roundabout and Fairman was arrested.
Fairman, a labourer of no fixed address, was originally charged with murder but following an appeal from the defence, Fairman pleaded guilty to manslaughter with diminished responsibility.
Judge Gold sentenced Fairman to life with a minimum of nine years.
Detective Inspector Simon Dunn from the Major Crime Team said: “Samantha was a loving mum and this has been a tragic case to investigate. I hope Fairman’s sentence can mean her family and friends are able to begin to rebuild their lives and grieve for Samantha properly.
“Fairman has consistently not taken his medication and is a very violent man, his sentence sufficiently reflects this.”
Samantha’s sister Jennie said: “We have lost a sister, mother, daughter and friend. For us the manner of her death has been devastating and we are all damaged by that.
“Sam had a wicked sense of humour, she was very witty and added plenty of laughs to our family occasions.
“She loved animals, history, quizzes and socialising. She was also very tolerant, non-judgemental and always sympathised with the underdog. She was very popular where she worked as a carer.
“These positive attributes of Sam and the way she touched all our lives as a family are how we are remembering her.”