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Husband hits out at woods murderer

The husband of an economics graduate who was battered to death in woodland has branded her murderer a "despicable being" whom he hopes will never be freed from prison.

Matthew Ashton, 27, whose wife Jia was found dead in woods in Somercotes, Derbyshire, in March, was at Nottingham Crown Court to see David Simmonds plead guilty to her murder.

The body of Chinese-born Mrs Ashton, 25, was discovered by a mountain search and rescue dog in Sleetmoor Woods on March 13, three days after she was last seen leaving her job at chocolate-maker Thorntons.

She had been subjected to a violent and brutal beating in which she suffered significant compression to her chest which resulted in fatal trauma to her heart, detectives said.

Simmonds, 21, of Derby Road, Heanor, Derbyshire, originally pleaded not guilty to Mrs Ashton's murder but in a dramatic turnaround changed his plea to guilty. He will be sentenced for the murder on October 7.

Speaking on the court steps after the hearing, Matthew Ashton said no sentence could ever be enough to make amends for what Simmonds had done.

Standing next to Detective Superintendent Terry Branson and his mother, Sue, Mr Ashton remained calm as the statement he had prepared was read out.

"It has been six long and painful months since Jia was taken from us," the statement said.

"At one time we thought that answers would help us come to terms with what he did to Jia. I now know that these answers may never come.

"I hope that justice will be done and that this despicable being will never be free to kill again."


From Belfast Telegraph