A skydive instructor was found guilty today of killing his partner in a ‘fit of rage’ when she tried to end their relationship.
Ashley Kemp, 55, strangled fellow skydiving instructor and beauty salon owner Clair Armstrong, 50, after telling him to leave her home over an allegation that he had attempted to rape a teenage girl.
He later called 999 and told the operator “I killed my girlfriend” before crashing his car into a field on a rural road in a possible suicide attempt.
The police were on the hunt for Kemp and found him dazed on the edge. When he was arrested for murder he said ‘who did I kill?’
Officers responding to the emergency call found the mother of three, Ms Armstrong, dead in bed under her duvet at home in Mesingham, North Lincolnshire. She was suffocated.
Ashley Kemp (left) strangled Clair Armstrong (right) to death after a bedtime argument
Kemp (pictured) showed no emotion when found guilty of murder
Before she was killed, Clair Armstrong (pictured) had told Kemp to leave her home over an allegation that he had attempted to rape a teenage girl
Kemp, from Hibaldstow, North Lincolnshire, was supposed to start a new job for Amazon when he was arrested.
Clair was an accelerated free-form instructor
He has admitted manslaughter, told the Grimsby Crown Court jury he had no intention of killing her and even suggested he acted in self-defence.
“I just didn’t know what I was doing,” he said.
The prosecutor said, “If you didn’t get her, no one would have her. You took it out on her. How dare she tell you to leave. She was fighting for her life, wasn’t she?’
Kemp replied, “I thought she was still trying to attack me.”
It took the jury less than four hours to find him guilty of murder.
Kemp showed no emotion when the verdict was announced.
Kemp gets a mandatory life sentence, but Judge John Thackray, KC said sentencing would be postponed for legal reasons
Former accuser Richard Thyne, KC, said their two-year relationship had become “strained” and she told friends she expected to be single again.
Both worked at the Drop Zone skydiving center, where she was also on a skydive formation team.
He said Kemp was facing an allegation, which he denied, of attempted rape of a teenager at work at the time of the alleged murder last November. No decision has yet been made on whether or not to charge him for the alleged crime that allegedly took place that summer.
But the allegation strained their relationship and ultimately ended in tragedy.
Kemp had previously told police that Clair grabbed him so he “squeezed her throat as hard as he could until she stopped”
Forensic teams arrive at the scene of the investigation in Messingham, North Lincolnshire, last November
Mrs. Armstrong was last seen alive shortly after midnight on Saturday 5 November returning home on foot with Kemp from an evening at her local pub with her brother and sister and their partners.
Although Kemp did not call 911 until after midnight on Sunday, prosecutors believe she was killed the night before, after the pub meal.
Kemp would later tell police that they rowed over the sexual allegation as they were getting ready for bed at Mrs. Armstrong’s house.
He said she told him she “couldn’t take it anymore” and asked him to leave.
A violent brawl then broke out, the court said.
Kemp admitted to headbutting his girlfriend after she grabbed him.
Kemp said that after she punched him repeatedly, he “squeezed her throat as hard as he could until she stopped.”
“To be honest I just snapped, it was like the red fog coming over,” he told police.
The court heard that Kemp did not want to discuss the allegations. He said he “panicked” and “didn’t know what to do” after killing his girlfriend.
He called 999 at 12:41 a.m. on Sunday and told the operator, “I killed my girlfriend.
“We got into a fight and I ended up strangling her.
“She’s upstairs in bed in the master bedroom.
“We just had a fight, that’s all and it got heated. She started thrashing around and I just reacted, I never react. I pinned her down and just strangled her.”
He was found 10 miles away less than two hours after calling 911 in a dazed state near his crashed car.
A note in his clothing referred to the attempted rape allegations that tore the family apart.
He wrote: ‘It’s time to go. I can’t be happy right now, I’m so sorry.’
Mr Thyne said police never found Ms Armstrong’s mobile phone, which Kemp may have ‘got rid of’ to make sure police didn’t find it.