John Mearns guilty of murdering St Ives woman

A WOMAN who was strangled to death at her home in St Ives was murdered, a jury ruled today (Friday).

John Mearns, 53, had already admitted to the manslaughter of Pauline Smith following her death on October 26 last year. But after a two-week trial at Cambridge Crown Court, he was found guilty of murder.

He will be sentenced on June 15.

The court was told that Mearns had murdered Mrs Smith, a hairdresser, at her home in Gainsborough Drive after becoming obsessed with their relationship and turning violent.

Mrs Smith, 54, who had left her family home in Somersham after starting an affair with Mearns, had told him she was intending to return to her family.

She had told Mearns, who she met at a singles’ night at Wood Green Animal Shelters in March, 2011, that she was not in love with him.

On the night of her murder Mearns strangled Mrs Smith and then claimed she had attacked him and he had been defending himself, trying to restrain her. He stabbed himself in the stomach – something he later admitted – and put the knife in Mrs Smith’s hand.

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Following the guilty verdict, her family – estranged husband Barry, children Toby and Charlotte, and the rest of her family – said: “We can never put into words what he has done to our family and friends, however today has given us, and mum, some justice.

“The sentencing will never be enough or bring back mum but we hope now that this heart-wrenching time of our lives can be put behind us and look forward to the future as mum would have wanted us to.

“At this opportunity we would like to thank everyone who has worked on this case, they could not have been anymore consoling and helpful to us through this horrific time in our lives.

“Rest in heaven my angel. You will never be forgotten, love you always.”

DCI George Barr, of Cambridgeshire police, said: “Mearns has taken a mother from her children and this is something they and their family will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

“He has tried to lie from the outset, inflicting stab wounds on himself and setting up a scenario to back-up his stories.

“Not content with the suffering he has caused, he has then put Pauline’s family through the added agony of a trial and I hope that today’s verdict brings them some comfort knowing that justice has been done.”