The man who murdered Mary Roberts and left her in a state of undress behind a Bury St Edmunds pub was given a life sentence by an Ipswich Crown Court judge today.
Andrew Ratcliffe, 56, who had been found guilty of murdering the 50-year-old mother of five, was told by Judge John Devaux he will serve a minimum of 23 years in prison.
Judge Devaux said: “The evidence established that in the early hours of the morning of Wednesday March 27 you first sexually assaulted and then murdered her in the covered smoking area of St Edmunds Tavern.
“At about 3.35am you finally left her for dead where she had fallen. Where you strangled her.”
The court had heard from Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, that at about 4.10am on March 27 Ratcliffe had called an ambulance for himself and told police and paramedics an attack earlier in the night had left him unconscious for several hours.
Judge Devaux said: “There was not a word of truth in your story.
“On this occasion you were hoping to distance yourself from the death of Mary Roberts and provide yourself with some sort of alibi.”
The court had been told that Ratcliffe and Mrs Roberts had met just over two weeks earlier while staying at a flat in Petch Close, Bury St Edmunds.
Judge Devaux said: “During the two weeks or so that you and she had been living at the same address you had developed a sexual interest in her. She liked you as a friend and a drinking companion but no more.
“You killed this lady because she rejected your sexual advances.”