A man who brutally beat his partner to death on her birthday was jailed for life at Lincoln Crown Court on Thursday.
Andrew Highton, who was convicted on Wednesday of murdering Linda Treeby on May 29, was ordered to serve a minimum of 18 years before he can be considered for parole.
Judge John Burgess, passing sentence, told him: “What you did to her was sustained, savage and brutal.
“What happened to cause you to behave in the way you did, I cannot say. I accept that there was no premeditation on your part. This awful death was the culmination of a toxic relationship rather than something that involved any planning.
“It is plain that the amount of violence you were prepared to use was almost inevitably going to lead to her death. The attack was focussed on her head and neck.”
Andrew Highton turned on Linda Treeby after they returned to the caravan where they were staying on the Summerlands site at Ingoldmells. They had spent the afternoon and early evening together in a nearby bar where they appeared to be getting on with each other.
The jury was told that the couple had an “on-off” relationship which was described as “dysfunctional” and “toxic” but had got back together weeks before the attack which cost Linda her life.
Minutes before she died, Linda, who worked as a school caretaker, texted her daughter saying she’d “had enough” and was returning home the next morning bringing to an abrupt end the holiday they were on to celebrate her 64th birthday.
Highton punched, kicked and stamped on her and smashed a heavy glass ashtray into her face. He then left her dying on the floor lying in a pool of blood and walked off to a relative’s home nearby.
Linda’s body was found after a passerby alerted the caravan site manager that something was wrong and the two of them entered the caravan to discover a horrific scene with blood spattered all over the walls, floor and ceiling.
Linda had suffered 34 separate injuries to her body. Her nose was smashed into pieces and she had suffered bleeding on the brain. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Highton, 51, claimed he reacted after she made comments about his family causing him to “lose it”. However, the jury took just 90 minutes to convict him of murder.
Maree Moran, the eldest daughter of Linda Treeby, also speaking on behalf of all three of Linda’s children, said in a victim impact statement: “Our lives are completely devastated by the loss of our mum.
“The way she died is heart-breaking. The hole she has left is huge to us and the whole of the family.
“I warned her he would kill her one day and now he has done it.
“Because of her relationship with Andrew Highton we have been unable to celebrate Christmas and birthdays together. Now he has taken her away from us. We still have all her presents at home waiting for her.”
William Harbage QC, prosecuting, said that the couple had an on-off relationship within which Highton was controlling and prevented her daughters from seeing her.
Mr Harbage said: “What should have been a day of celebration turned into a vicious, sustained and ultimately fatal assault on her inside the caravan where she was staying.
“The defendant concentrated his attack on her head. She was struck on the head repeatedly.
“He must have struck her again and again and again and again.”
During the trial the jury was told Highton had previous convictions for domestic violence involving a woman whom he had been in a relationship with in Scotland.
As a teenager, Highton’s first job on leaving school was working as a football groundsman, but within a couple of years he was in custody serving an 18 month sentence for arson. He later worked in the hosiery trade, for British Rail and for Sketchley’s Dry Cleaners.
Michael Magarian, QC, for Highton, said his client was devastated at what happened.
He told the court: “This was a dysfunctional relationship. He does continue to love her. He is genuine about the devastation he has caused. He is full of remorse.”
Andrew Highton, 51, of Highbury Road, Bulwell, Nottingham, had denied murder on May 29 this year but was found guilty at the end of a seven day trial.