A CONTROLLING boyfriend beat his 18-year-old girlfriend to death after finding an explicit picture of another man on her phone.
Scott Clifford, 33, was locked up for a minimum of 18 years after he left Natasha Hill with black eyes and a fractured skull in a sustained violent attack.
He called for an ambulance claiming she had fallen down the stairs but was caught out when paramedics spotted him trying to wash his clothes as they battled to save her life.
Clifford, who has a history of domestic violence, was unanimously convicted of murdering the teen at his flat last Thursday after a jury trial at Southwark Crown Court.
‘POSSESSIVE AND JEALOUS’
He previously pleaded guilty to two counts of actual bodily harm – one against Natasha’s friend Tammy Huntley – and one of common assault against his girlfriend prior to the murder after he knocked her unconscious in the street.
Natasha Hill’s relatives called him a “coward” from the public gallery as the court heard he refused to attend the hearing.
Sentencing Clifford, of Thamesmead, South East London, in absence, Judge Jeffrey Pegden QC said: “He was possessive, jealous and isolating and prone to outbursts of serious violence especially when he had been drinking.”
He said the murder happened: “In the context of what only be described as a coercive and controlling relationship with Scott Clifford who isolated Natasha Hill and his violence was fuelled by no good reason what so ever.
“I did not find to the criminal standard in this case that he had the intention to kill her but he certainly had the intention to cause her serious bodily injury.”
The judge added Natasha Hill must have suffered “extreme pain” during the assault, either because it was a single “prolonged” attack or she woke up briefly after he had fractured her skull.
Judge Pegden added: “She was vulnerable because she was so much younger, because she had just come out of care and because as we heard in the evidence in the case, she did have her frailties.”
He said his sentence took into account his previous assaults against her and a previous partner.
The court was told earlier that police had found a picture on her phone of another man’s penis, sent on the afternoon of her death, but it is not known if this is what caused the attack on her by Clifford.
The judge said: “On February 1 2018, he was observed by independent witnesses as pushing her to the ground on the street, rendering her unconscious with a boxer like jab.”
‘LIKE WATCHING SOMEONE DIE’
Earlier prosecutor Tom Little read a victim impact statement from Miss Hill’s older sister, Melissa Hill.
He said: “Natasha looked after herself and looked happy and things changed after she met Scott.
“What really haunts me is I told her if she didn’t get away from him he would kill her. I know she told me that she really loved him, I’m not sure she knew what love was.
“She really believed she could change him. I remember saying to my mum it was like watching someone die, she was deteriorating before our eyes.”
Melissa, who was six years older than Natasha, said her sister dreamed to be a holiday representative but quit studying at Chelmsford College in Essex because of Clifford.
Miss Hill was pronounced dead just 11 minutes after Clifford called paramedics to his flat at 4.22am on April 15 last year.
He claimed he had put her in bed after she drunkenly fell down the stairs and he woke up to find her with black eyes, bleeding and unresponsive.
A post-mortem examination gave her cause of death as a major head injury.
The trial also heard how Clifford in 2012 had attacked his ex-girlfriend Michelle Bateman, who he had six children with.
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She said he suddenly jumped on her and she “lost count” of how many times she was punched.
She told of how he blamed his violence on a split personality and alter-ego called ‘Ronnie’.
Clifford was sentenced for a minimum of 18 years, with two years concurrent for each ABH count and four months concurrent for the common assault.
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