A man brutally killed his girlfriend and then daubed "it was me" in red nail varnish on her leg in an "act of callous and cruel triumphalism".
The badly beaten body of Imogen Bohajczuk, 29, was discovered lying on her bed with multiple stab wounds when police were called to her flat in Oldham, Greater Manchester, on March 4.
Weeks earlier Daniel Smith, 41, killed her in a ferocious and brutal attack and then went on a buying spree with her bank card, emptying her account, before he was arrested in the early hours of March 5.
Miss Bohajczuk had texted an ex-partner on February 18 to say Smith had visited her home and become violent with her, Manchester Crown Court heard on Tuesday.
She wrote: "I thought I was going to die… He strangled me so much I nearly died and then he got a knife."
Miss Bohajczuk called police to report the violence and that Smith had left the address. Officers arrived at her property the next day but got no response, the court was told.
Police were confronted with a "grim scene" when they returned to the address in Ashton Road, Bardsley, on March 4 after her body was found by a housing officer at Miss Bohajczuk's supported accommodation.
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Prosecutor Tim Storrie QC said: "Imogen Bohajczuk had been laid on her bed. Her body had been arranged as though she were a spectacle. Her arms were crossed and she appeared to be clutching a bottle of perfume. A soft toy was by her neck.
"Her legs were crossed at the ankle and on examination, the discovery was made that her body had been daubed, in nail varnish, with the words 'It was me'. Chillingly, an exhibition had been made of her body."
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In late 2020, Ms Bohajczuk started seeing alcoholic Smith, originally from the Isle of Wight, who had a history of violent and abusive behaviour towards women.
The post-mortem examination revealed multiple bruises on her face, jaw and scalp, and on her neck in a manner that suggested attempted strangulation.
When interviewed, Smith said he accepted he was responsible for her death but he claimed it was "out of character" and he drunkenly daubed on her leg merely to make it clear he had inflicted the injuries.
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Benjamin Knight, defending, said his client does not remember the stabbing itself but did recall placing her favourite perfume and soft toy on the bed.
He said: "That was not to create a spectacle but placing her in some form of peaceful position, in his mind. He does not really recall what he was thinking, only that it seemed to be the right thing to do – although he accepts, objectively, that does not make any sense."
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Sentencing Smith to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 17-and-a-half years, Judge Patrick Field QC told him: "On her right leg you had daubed the words 'It was me' in red nail varnish. This macabre graffiti is said to be some kind of confession by you; a sign to the police that you were responsible for the killing. I reject that notion utterly."
Earlier this month, Smith, of Park Road, Oldham, pleaded guilty to murder.
If you have been affected by issues of domestic violence or coercive control you can call Refuge's 24-Hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free. The number is 0808 2000 247
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