A man has been jailed for a minimum of 24 years after killing a vulnerable woman in the town before having sex with her body.
Joe Rankin, 34, murdered 40-year-old Emma Potter at her home in Chapel Street in Stroud on 20 September last year.
Christopher Quinlan KC, prosecuting, told the court that after Emma had been repeatedly stabbed by Rankin, her body lay undiscovered in her flat for six weeks before she was found by police on 4 November.
Six days later, Rankin admitted the killing to his friend, Joshua Tucker-Bradshaw, who informed the police of the confession.
Officers were then able to place Rankin, of Langtoft Road, Stroud, at the scene on the night of Emma’s death through his mobile phone.
CCTV also showed Rankin return to Emma’s flat eight days later, on 28 September. Police have never been able to ascertain the reason for this, but believe he may have been trying to eliminate evidence.
Following his arrest, Rankin admitted to a psychiatrist that he had gone to the flat on 20 September in order to kill Emma. He also told them that he had sex with her body after her death.
In mitigation, Rankin’s solicitor David Aubrey said Rankin had a history of mental health issues and drug addiction.
During the sentencing, Emma’s adopted mother Jean gave a victim impact statement, explaining the effect that the murder had on her family.
She said: “How do we parents bear it, we who had cherished her as a beautiful baby?
“How can her murderer live with the knowledge of what he has done to a fellow human being?
“Did she try to escape those thrusts and stabs? Or did an early blow silence her quickly and forever?
“We will never know but these images will stay with us always.”
Sentencing Rankin to a life sentence, Judge Peter Blair, Recorder for Bristol, ordered that he must serve 24 years before being considered for release on licence.
He described Rankin’s actions after she had died as “an act of gross desecration and insult”.
Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Inspector Adam Stacey, of the Major Crime Investigation Team, paid tribute to Emma’s family.
He said: “I want to thank them for the poise and dignity they have shown throughout this case. This was a horrific murder and they have displayed incredible bravery.
“I know this sentence will bring a sense of comfort for them as their daughter’s killer faces a long stay in prison.”