Family criticise killer's sentence

THE GRIEVING mother of Suffolk murder victim Kim Fuller last night called for killer to be locked up for the next 40 years.In her first full interview since her daughter's estranged boyfriend Sean Hilton was convicted of brutally strangling the mother-of-two, Connie Goddard said he could “rot in hell”.

By James Mortlock

THE GRIEVING mother of Suffolk murder victim Kim Fuller last night called for killer to be locked up for the next 40 years.

In her first full interview since her daughter's estranged boyfriend Sean Hilton was convicted of brutally strangling the mother-of-two, Connie Goddard said he could “rot in hell”.

And while she was relieved that Hilton was convicted and jailed for life, she called for the minimum sentence to be far higher than the 15 years set down by Lord Justice Gross on Friday, following Hilton's three-week murder trial at Cambridge Crown Court.

Mrs Goddard, from Exning, near Newmarket, also called for tougher sentences for domestic abuse cases after it emerged Hilton, who killed 34-year-old Kim at his home in Soham before dumping her body at an isolated Norfolk airfield and fleeing to Cornwall, had a lengthy history of attacking the women he formed relationships with.

The devastated mother said Hilton, who is believed to have killed after Ms Fuller received two innocent text messages from a male friend, was besotted with her daughter and desperately jealous: “He thought if he couldn't have her then no-one else was going to have her.

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“We will never get her back so he can rot in hell for all I care. I really don't want him to come out of prison for it to all happen again to someone else. He is just not safe out there where women are concerned unless he can get the treatment he needs.

“And even then I would need a 100% guarantee. I really think he should stay where he is. I'm glad he got life but I think he should be looking at 30 or 40 years inside - consider parole when he is 70 at the earliest.”

Mrs Goddard only learned Hilton, 39, who was handed a community punishment in 1994 for an assault on his second wife Teresa Edwards, was a serial wife-beater in the wake her daughter's tragic death.

She said he even went to psychiatrists but never followed the treatment through: “He had the chance to get help for his violence but he didn't take it and if you don't want to have treatment no-one can make you.

“I think domestic violence is a dreadful crime and a lot of women are absolutely terrified of the person who abuses them and I don't think offences of this nature are given tough enough sentences. I think we need a real change here.

“We know Sean tried to kill Kim before she was murdered but he didn't knock her about like he had previous women. He was besotted with her and jealous and he got his hands around her throat that time but he didn't treat her like he did his second wife.”

Mrs Goddard urged victims to seek help: “Women who are being battered like this should come forward and go to the police but they're so terrified. Most of them block out the horrible times and just get on and look forward to the good things.

“And Sean could be quite a nice pleasant fellow when he wasn't gripped by jealousy. I wish he had gone on the stand though because it would be nice to know why he killed Kim - why he didn't just let her walk away.”

Her calls over domestic violence were last night backed by Jim Paice, MP for South East Cambridgeshire, who said the issue must be treated more seriously: “I'm sure what comes out is the tip of the iceberg. There is ample evidence that countless women suffer in silence.

“More people need to be dedicated to this field. The police and criminal justice system needs to operate in a way in which the people responsible can be convicted and suitable sentences passed. The police have to have dedicated teams just as they do for rape cases.”

Mrs Goddard said she was slowly coming to terms with her daughter's murder. She said she would always remember Kim's devotion to her two young children, Natalie, now 12, and eight-year-old Zoe, even though she did not live with them.

The young mother's body was found thanks to the mobile phone she always had on for the girls to ring, said Mrs Goddard, who took Kim in after Hilton tried to throttle her only days before their final fateful meeting in March, 2005.

“She was devoted to the girls and she was always on the phone to them. She had her phone on all the time, she was even allowed to keep it on silent at work so they could call her.

“It's sad for me to see them growing up without Kim but they are coping. I think children are better than adults at taking things in their stride and getting on with their lives. It's really hard but we can't turn the clock back and life has to go on.”

Det Supt Garry Swain, who led the murder investigation, described Hilton as a violent criminal: “He is a man driven into rages by jealousy. He murdered this woman and had tried to strangle previous lovers - he is just a violent man who likes to dominate women.”

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