A man has today (Thursday, May 23rd) been sentenced to life with a minimum of 20 years for the brutal murder of a Preston woman.
Benjamin Topping (pictured right), 25, of St George’s Road, Preston admitted killing young mother Rosie Darbyshire (pictured below), 27, from Moor Nook in the early hours of Thursday, February 7th at Preston Crown Court.
Police were called at around 2am to the report of a violent assault that had been witnessed by passers-by on Pope Lane. The man and woman saw Topping attacking someone, known to have been Rosie who he was in a relationship with, with a crowbar. He continued to deliver blows to her head and body as she lay unconscious on the ground.
The pair were chased by Topping, brandishing the crowbar, from the scene. As officers arrived, Topping threw the weapon at a third witness and ran to the rear of a property on Pope Lane. He was arrested shortly afterwards, spitting at the officer who detained him.
Rosie was found on a pavement close to the junction with Village Drive. She had been beaten beyond recognition. A subsequent post mortem examination revealed she suffered severe head and facial injuries consisting of at least 50 separate blows. She also had received bruising and cuts to her arms and hands from trying to defend herself.
The officer who led the investigation, DCI Geoff Hurst from Lancashire’s Force Major Investigation Team (FMIT) said: “Firstly, my thoughts, as well as those of my team, are with Rosie’s family at this dreadfully difficult time.
“This was a senseless murder where a talented, defenceless young lady needlessly lost her life in the most appalling way. What’s worse is that she died close to the community where she lived.
“Ben Topping is a dangerous individual who attacked Rosie with such savagery, she was unrecognisable and died almost straightaway. He has left a nine-year-old boy without a mother and a family who will never be the same again.
“I am pleased that he has pleaded guilty, sparing Rosie’s family the further trauma of having to sit through a trial.
“My thanks goes to them, as well as my team of officers who worked tirelessly to get justice for Rosie. I would also like to thank the community of Preston, particularly the people of Moor Nook and Ribbleton, who have supported us during this challenging investigation.
“Lastly, I welcome the sentence handed down by His Lordship Judge Brown and hope that it goes some way to achieving justice for Rosie and her family and friends.”
Rosie’s family added: “We are relieved that a guilty plea has been given. No sentence will ever feel enough to show the value of Rosie’s life and the loss we feel. We want to thank the police involved in Rosie’s case and the prosecutor. They have treated the case, us as a family and Rosie’s memory with invaluable respect and dignity.
“Now we are no longer stuck in limbo we will try to live our new reality and ensure that Rosie’s son lives a happy life and will always share memories of his beautiful mum.”