Man found guilty at Leeds Crown Court of murdering woman whose body was stored in wheelie bin then burned and buried in shallow grave at Yorkshire caravan park

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A man has been found guilty of murdering a woman whose body was stored in a wheelie bin in the cellar of a house before being burned and then buried at a Yorkshire caravan park.

Susan Howells' decomposing remains were found in a shallow grave after police launched a missing person inquiry.

Detectives made the discovery in August last year, six months after the 51-year-old was last seen alive.

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Dale Tarbox, 40, was found guilty of murder after a re-trial at Leeds Crown Court.

Murder victim Susan HowellsMurder victim Susan Howells
Murder victim Susan Howells

The first trial had to be abandoned in March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Tarbox has already pleaded guilty to a charge of preventing a lawful burial.

Tarbox denied the murder, claiming his 64-year-old girlfriend, Joan Arnold, killed Miss Howells by strangling her at their former home in Bradford.

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Miss Howells was last known to be alive on February 19 last year when she spoke to her mother on the phone.

Dale Tarbox has been found guilty of murdering Susan HowellsDale Tarbox has been found guilty of murdering Susan Howells
Dale Tarbox has been found guilty of murdering Susan Howells
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Around £3,500 in benefits continued to be withdrawn from her post office account despite Miss Howells being missing.

Investigations revealed that Tarbox had been withdrawing money from Miss Howells' account.

Police traced Tarbox to a caravan park in Doncaster.

Tarbox and his partner were renting a static caravan at the park on Station Road.

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They were not at home at the time but officers saw a touring caravan on the site which contained a wheelie bin with the house number of their former home in Bradford marked on it.

There was also a metal incinerator bin which had the appearance of something recently being burned inside it.

Clumps of human hair were found in the bin.

Tarbox went on to tell officers: "I just pray to God she shows her face to prove our innocence."

The defendant claimed he had been withdrawing money from her account as she was repaying a debt to him.

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Human remains unearthed from a shallow grave were confirmed to be the body of Miss Howells.

The body was not clothed and had been "doubled over".

A post mortem examination was hampered as the body had decomposed.

A pathologist found a fracture to the Adam's apple area consistent with compression to the neck.

The likely cause of death was neck injuries.

Miss Howells' hair was singed and there were other indications that attempts had been made to burn the body.

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The prosecution case was that Tarbox murdered Miss Howells at the house in Bradford then stored her body in the wheelie bin at the property before trying to burn it.

The court heard Miss Howells was a small woman and had a disability that meant she needed to use a zimmer frame.

The zimmer frame was found in bushes at the caravan site after the discovery of the body.

Around five weeks before her disappearance she contacted police alleging Tarbox had sexually assaulted her.

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Tarbox denied the allegation when he was questioned by police.

A clip was then recovered from his mobile phone of Miss Howells carrying out a sex act on the defendant.

Tarbox will be sentenced tomorrow by the Recorder of Leeds, Judge Guy Kearl QC.