Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Conman killer jailed for 34 years

David Ryan, 48, has been jailed for life for the murder of Diana Lee, 54 (Cheshire Police/PA)
Diana Lee, 54, was murdered at her home in East Cheshire (Cheshire Police/PA)

A "brutal and sadistic" conman who murdered and mutilated the body of his secret lover after cheating her out of more than £60,000 has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 34 years.

Businesswoman Diana Lee, 54, was bludgeoned to death at her home in affluent East Cheshire by her debt-ridden boyfriend David Ryan, a trial at Chester Crown Court heard.

Ryan, 48, of Byrom Street, Altrincham, spent the cash he stole from Ms Lee on IVF treatment for his wife and a list of other luxuries. He denied murder but was found guilty by a jury of six men and six women after a seven-week trial.

The divorcee's naked body was found face-down and mutilated in a wheelbarrow full of wood by firefighters who were called to attend a blaze at her gated detached property in the leafy village of Cranage, near Holmes Chapel, on August 9 last year.

Ms Lee - the owner of a "luxury cattery" - suffered fatal head wounds from "a sustained attack with a blunt object" and was mutilated by Ryan in an attempt to get rid of DNA evidence.

A victim impact statement written by Ms Lee's brother, Colin Sherwin, was read to the court, in which he described his sister as "kind and sensitive" and her murder as "horrific" and "savage".

"This is an unbelievable chain of events that belongs in a horror film, not in our lives," he said. "This intelligent, lovely human being has been killed to satisfy a need that I do not, to this day, have any knowledge of or yet understand. For me, only evil is capable of doing this to her," the statement continued.

He branded Ryan "nothing but a coward", adding: "His selfishness and indifference is no more than contempt for the life he had cruelly snubbed out and the family he has destroyed."

Ryan was conducting a secret affair with Ms Lee for almost two years, after the pair met in the Cinnamon Club in Bowdon village, near Altrincham, in 2010. Ms Lee did not know he was married, Ryan told police.

Ryan kept the affair secret from Karen, his wife of six years, often slipping away to meet Ms Lee, the trial heard. She ran the popular Parklands Cattery from a building next to her house, off Byley Lane, near Cranage Park.

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