Man who hanged himself was on remand for lover's murder

A JILTED lover who "flipped" and throttled his ex-girlfriend to death cheated justice by taking his own life as he waited to stand trial for murder.

The family of victim Ann Riel said her killer Shaun Stoker had taken "the coward's way out" after he was found dead in his cell at HMP Leeds.

An inquest into mum-of-two Ms Riel's death at Wakefield Coroner's Court heard that Stoker and her had split in May last year. In the days before his former girlfriend's death, the court heard that Stoker, 49, who had a history of depression, had told neighbours "if I can't have her, nobody can" as well as saying he intended to kill himself.

He had also told Ms Riel that he could not live without her.

On May 15, Ms Riel, 47, of Rhodes Street, Castleford, had gone to Stoker's home on Edendale, Castleford, where they had lived together, to discuss arrangements about property after their separation.

There was a confrontation during which Stoker struck his victim in the head with a frying pan before strangling her to death.

Ms Riel's brothers and sister travelled to the house later that day after she failed to turn up for a meeting.

After glimpsing a body through the window, they forced their way into the house where they found their sister's body and Stoker nearby.

They restrained him until police arrived.

A post-mortem report revealed Ms Riel had died of compression of the neck.

Det Spt Steve Payne told the court that in subsequent police interviews, Stoker said: "I didn't want her to leave. I just flipped."

He added: "I'm going to spend the rest of my life in prison. I've killed her haven't I? I couldn't live without her, I knew someone else would get her. I've killed her, I just flipped."

Stoker was charged with murder after appearing at Pontefract Magistrates Court.

He had been remanded at Leeds since May 21 last year.

At 4pm on June 8 last year, a cellmate found him face down on the cell floor with a piece of towel material knotted around his neck.

At yesterday's inquest, West Yorkshire Coroner David Hinchcliff recorded a verdict of death by unlawful killing.

Speaking after the hearing, Ms Riel's sister Diane said: "I think he (Stoker] took the coward's way out by killing himself.

"But at least we have closure. Hopefully this will be the last part of it, it's been going on for a long time. We are a really close family and we weren't just brothers and sisters, we were best friends."

Ms Riel's brother Michael added: "My wife's birthday is the same day as Ann's and our wedding anniversary is the day Stoker killed himself so it's so hard for us not to think about it."

stuart.robinson@ypn.co.uk