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Mark Brandford, 49, found guilty of the murder of Kayleigh Dunning in Portsmouth, Hampshire

Mark Brandford (pictured), 49,  'created the illusion' that his girlfriend Kayleigh Dunning had a stalker by sending the explicit videos from her 'stolen' phone

Mark Brandford (pictured), 49,  ‘created the illusion’ that his girlfriend Kayleigh Dunning had a stalker by sending the explicit videos from her ‘stolen’ phone

A jealous lover who sent sex tapes of him and his girlfriend to her family as part of a ‘cold and calculated’ murder plot involving a made up stalker has today been convicted of her killing.

Mark Brandford ‘created the illusion’ that his girlfriend Kayleigh Dunning had a mysterious enemy by sending explicit videos from her ‘stolen’ phone.

The 49-year-old, from Portsmouth, Hants, also sent anonymous threatening messages to Miss Dunning to make it seem like someone was out to get her. 

Brandford, who prosecutors say was jealous of Miss Dunning’s ex-partner, then ‘brutally’ murdered the 32-year-old on the same night he proposed to her.

The ‘deceptive’ killer, a street cleaner, attempted to create a ‘facade’ the next day by going into work and pretending nothing had happened.

However Brandford was today convicted of Miss Dunning’s murder following a trial at Portsmouth Crown Court.

He had earlier been found guilty of disclosing private sexual photos of his victim.

Brandford is set to be sentenced on Friday. 

Portsmouth Crown Court heard how Brandford smashed his partner’s skull in a ‘vicious’ attack on December 17, 2019 – the same night he proposed to her.

In the year before he had created the impression she had a mysterious enemy by pretending someone else had stolen her phone and using it to share explicit videos of the couple having sex.

He sent the images to Miss Dunning’s family and bosses as well as sending her anonymous threats including ‘I’m going to f**k you up big time’.

'Vicious' Brandford, who prosecutors say was jealous of Miss Dunning's ex-partner, then 'brutally' murdered the 32-year-old (pictured) on the same night he proposed to her

'Vicious' Brandford, who prosecutors say was jealous of Miss Dunning's ex-partner, then 'brutally' murdered the 32-year-old (pictured) on the same night he proposed to her

‘Vicious’ Brandford, who prosecutors say was jealous of Miss Dunning’s ex-partner, then ‘brutally’ murdered the 32-year-old (pictured) on the same night he proposed to her

Brandford attacked his girlfriend in bed while she was naked, crushing her skull and making a fatal cut to her neck through a number of heavy blows. A crowbar (pictured) was found near Brandford's home three months later

Brandford attacked his girlfriend in bed while she was naked, crushing her skull and making a fatal cut to her neck through a number of heavy blows. A crowbar (pictured) was found near Brandford's home three months later

Brandford attacked his girlfriend in bed while she was naked, crushing her skull and making a fatal cut to her neck through a number of heavy blows. A crowbar (pictured) was found near Brandford’s home three months later

On the night of the murder, Brandford subjected Miss Dunning to a ‘ferocious’ and ‘prolonged’ attack at his home in Portsmouth, Hants, the court heard.

But the following morning, just after 5am, Brandford left the house to ‘create a facade of someone going about his normal day’ by going to work.

The court heard he told everyone he met about the engagement and watched his beloved Aston Villa on TV in betting shops.

‘It has ripped our whole world apart’: Family in touching tribute to Kayleigh Dunning

The family of Kayleigh Dunning say their ‘whole world’ has been ‘ripped apart’ by the 32-year-old’s death.

Hampshire police today released a statement Miss Dunning’s family wrote following her death.

In the statement, released after her killer Mark Brandford was found guilty of Miss Dunning’s murder, the family said: ‘Our precious daughter Kayleigh Louise Dunning was taken so suddenly.

‘It has ripped our whole world apart. You never expect to bury your own child.

‘Her brother has lost his best friend. She was so kind and thoughtful. As long as her mum, dad and brother were fine she was happy.

‘The hardest thing is not being able to hear her voice and laughter, and not to cuddle her.

‘Our life will never be the same. We are devastated and only people who have lost a child would understand how we feel. There are not enough words to explain how we feel.

‘Rest in peace baby girl. You are always in our hearts and thoughts.. We miss you so much.’

When he finally returned home and called 999 at 9.40pm, he ‘staged’ a show by pretending to ‘go through the motions as this grief stricken fiance’.

He was even seen by paramedics putting fingers down his throat to make himself gag. 

The court heard previously heard that Brandford, who was arrested the night he called 999, became increasingly jealous of Miss Dunning’s ex Dean Drooney.

The court heard he was incensed after she accidentally called him his pet name ‘noodle’.

Simon Jones, prosecuting, said Brandford thought ‘if I can’t have her then no one else can’.

He said he attacked her in bed, crushing her skull and making a fatal cut to her neck through a series of heavy blows.

A crowbar was found near Brandford’s home three months later.

Mr Jones said: ‘Mark Brandford is a cold, calculated killer who showed no emotion.

‘He brutally and viciously murdered her and knew what he was going to find having left it as late as possible to make the 999 call before returning to his flat.

‘He is vicious and deceptive.’

Images posted to Brandford’s Instagram from the evening of Miss Dunning’s death show her posing next to novelty balloons which said ‘Will you marry me?’ on them.

A year before her death Miss Dunning became the target of a revenge porn attack. Mr Jones said: ‘Police couldn’t find, at that stage, who was responsible. We now know who was responsible – it was the man who murdered her, Mark Brandford.’ 

Brandford ‘sought to frame himself as a victim’ by telling police he had also received threatening messages.

He even told police he had called one of the numbers and had ‘heard voices at the other end’.

Mr Jones said Brandford ‘might have planned the killing in a more sinister and pre-meditated way’ due to the ‘consistent way, over many months, he created the impression that someone else was out to get Kayleigh and make her life a misery’.

He told her that ‘she wouldn’t be working after Christmas’ and even told police prior to the murder that someone else was breaking into his flat.

At the end of last week Brandford was found guilty at Portsmouth Crown Court, Hants, of disclosing private sexual photos of her, the jury having spent four hours 14 minutes deliberating.

At the end of last week Brandford was found guilty at Portsmouth Crown Court (pictured) of disclosing private sexual photos of her, the jury having spent four hours 14 minutes deliberating

At the end of last week Brandford was found guilty at Portsmouth Crown Court (pictured) of disclosing private sexual photos of her, the jury having spent four hours 14 minutes deliberating

At the end of last week Brandford was found guilty at Portsmouth Crown Court (pictured) of disclosing private sexual photos of her, the jury having spent four hours 14 minutes deliberating

However, the jury foreman told the judge they had not yet reached a unanimous verdict on the charge of murder, which he denied.

Jurors then spent a further three hours deliberating their final verdict before today convicting Brandford of murdering his partner of two years.

Judge Timothy Mousley, QC, delayed the reporting of the outcome so Brandford, who remained in prison and did not attend due to a coronavirus scare, could be told. 

Judge Mousley thanked the jury, and said: ‘It is obviously a huge responsibility for members of the public to decide these cases especially when they are so serious…

‘You have given full care and attention to what I have already said is a serious case and you have assisted us in keeping the case going.

‘There were times I thought this case would grind to a halt and that would be extremely unsatisfactory for everyone involved…

‘Because the defendant couldn’t be contacted I made an order postponing the reporting of the verdict so his lawyers could tell him about it before anyone else.’  

After the verdict, Hampshire police today released a statement Miss Dunning’s family wrote following her death.

It read: ‘Our precious daughter Kayleigh Louise Dunning was taken so suddenly.

‘It has ripped our whole world apart. You never expect to bury your own child.

‘Her brother has lost his best friend. She was so kind and thoughtful. As long as her mum, dad and brother were fine she was happy.

‘The hardest thing is not being able to hear her voice and laughter, and not to cuddle her.

‘Our life will never be the same. We are devastated and only people who have lost a child would understand how we feel. There are not enough words to explain how we feel.

‘Rest in peace baby girl. You are always in our hearts and thoughts.. We miss you so much.’


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bourbiza

Bourbiza Mohamed. Writer and Political Discourse Analysis.

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