Bury St Edmunds: Andrew Ratcliffe must serve at least 23 years in prison for murdering Mary Roberts

Andrew Ratcliffe, found guilty of murder at Ipswich Crown Court

Andrew Ratcliffe, found guilty of murder at Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Archant

A man found guilty of the murder of Mary Roberts,50, of Bury St Edmunds following a trial at Ipswich Crown Court, will have to serve a minimum of 23 years in prison.

CCTV image of Andrew Ratcliffe (circled in red) and Mary Roberts (circled in yellow) outside the St

CCTV image of Andrew Ratcliffe (circled in red) and Mary Roberts (circled in yellow) outside the St Edmunds Tavern, Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds at approximately 5.53pm on 26 March 2013. This is from moving CCTV footage which showed the pair walking into the pub together. - Credit: Archant

Police were called just before 9am on Wednesday, March 27 this year by the ambulance service with a report that a woman had been found collapsed in a car park at the rear of the St Edmunds Tavern public house in Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds.

Mary Roberts, formerly of Long Melford, was pronounced deceased at the scene and a murder enquiry was launched.

That afternoon officers arrested Andrew Ratcliffe, 56, of Petch Close, Bury St Edmunds on suspicion of Mary Roberts’ murder.

He was found guilty yesterday and sentenced to life in jail today at Ipswich Crown Court, serving a minimum of 23 years.

Punam Malhan, CPS East of England Senior Crown Prosecutor said after today’s sentencing: “We were satisfied there was enough evidence for Andrew Ratcliffe to stand trial and although he denied murdering Mrs Roberts, the prosecution through forensic, CCTV, and other evidence was able to prove to the jury he was the only person responsible for her death.”

Following a post mortem examination and tests Home Office Pathologist, Doctor Nat Cary recorded Mary’s cause of death as compression of the neck.

Police continued with their enquiries and on the May 30, Andrew Ratcliffe was charged with Mary’s murder. Ratcliffe entered a not guilty plea at a plea and case management hearing held at Ipswich Crown Court on August 23 and his trial started on Monday, October 21.

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The jury heard that Ratcliffe had spent the evening with Mary at the St Edmunds Tavern and gone to the smoking area of the car park, whilst there he applied pressure to her neck causing her to collapse and die.

Police provided a case file for the trial which included CCTV footage of Ratcliffe at the rear of the pub, around the town and using a telephone kiosk to make a call stating he himself had been assaulted.

The phone call to the ambulance service stating he had been assaulted appeared to be Ratcliffe’s alibi as to his whereabouts.

Forensic experts recovered DNA from Mary’s body which linked her to Ratcliffe and personal items belonging to Mary were found on Ratcliffe’s being.

With all the evidence that was put before the court Ratcliffe was found guilty of her murder and is now due to be sentenced on Wednesday, October 30.

Speaking after the trial Detective Inspector Kevin Hayward from the Joint Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation team said: “We are pleased with the positive outcome from court today and that with the evidence that was put before the court, Andrew Ratcliffe has been found guilty of Mary Roberts’ murder.

“Ratcliffe denied throughout that he had anything to do with Mary’s murder. We are very grateful to members of the public who came forward. With their information and the CCTV footage, we were able to place Ratcliffe in the area at the time of Mary’s death.

“This information, together with the forensic evidence that was gathered helped secure Ratcliffe’s conviction.

“Mary Robert’s was a vulnerable woman who sadly died a horrendous death; we hope that the verdict today will go some way to provide some closure for her family and friends.”

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