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Body under floorboards: man jailed

A callous killer who concealed his teenage girlfriend's body under the floorboards of his home has been ordered to serve at least 17 years behind bars.

Stephen Devesey, 21, tried to cover his tracks by lying to his victim's mother and using incense sticks to mask the smell of Nicole Cartmell's decomposing body.

Sentencing Devesey to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 17 years, Mrs Justice Thirlwall said the killer had destroyed a family's happiness and taken away the life of a "bright and beautiful" young woman.

A two-week trial heard that Nicole, 18, was asphyxiated shortly after she made a frightened 999 call on February 10 last year from Devesey's home in Handsworth, Birmingham. Passing sentence, Mrs Justice Thirlwall said the victim, who had a young son by Devesey but lived with her mother in West Bromwich, had her whole life in front of her.

Jurors at the city's Crown Court unanimously convicted Devesey after hearing how Nicole's body, which had been dropped through floorboards at his property in Whateley Road, was not found for almost three weeks.

Devesey, who did not give evidence to the court, had submitted through his barrister that he had no involvement in his girlfriend's death.

Jurors heard that the killer used his victim's bank card on four occasions between her death and the discovery of her body at his home on March 2 last year.

After his initial arrest on suspicion of fraud in relation to the bank withdrawals, a search of Devesey's housing association property led to the discovery of Miss Cartmell's purse, driving licence, and a coat she was seen wearing.

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Inspector Simon Astle, of West Midlands Police, said: "The discovery of Nicole's body ignited the worst tragedy any parent could imagine and my thoughts remain with them at this time. I welcome the guilty verdict for murder and welcome the subsequent sentence and I hope that it will bring them some comfort."

In a separate statement, Nicole's parents said: "The Cartmell family would like to give our heartfelt thanks to everyone involved with finally bringing our daughter Nicole's murderer to justice. We hope this day will haunt him for ever and a day."

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