Thursday 19 July 2018

Man beat girlfriend to death, chopped up her body and flushed remains down toilet

Dean Lowe murdered his girlfriend Kirby Noden with a rock and metal pole (Photo: Devon and Cornwall Police)
Dean Lowe murdered his girlfriend Kirby Noden with a rock and metal pole (Photo: Devon and Cornwall Police)

Chris Baynes

A man who bludgeoned his girlfriend to death, chopped up her body and flushed her remains down the toilet has been found guilty of murder.

Dean Lowe, 33, armed himself with a rock and a metal pole to kill Kirby Noden, 32, in their basement flat before insisting she was alive and well in South Africa.

He claimed she had set up him by spraying her own blood around their one-bed home in Marazion, Cornwall, as she left him for another man.

Prosecutors told Truro Crown Court the murder was committed at some point in January 2017, but it did not come to light until four months later when Lowe confessed to his family in Cheshire.

In a text message to his cousin, he wrote: “She’s dead and has been chopped up and put down the toilet and in the bins down the road.”

Lowe’s family alerted police, who arrested him at his flat. Detectives said the home had barely been altered since the murder.

Police said Kirby Noden’s family were put ‘through living hell’ (Photo: Devon and Cornwall Police)
Police said Kirby Noden’s family were put ‘through living hell’ (Photo: Devon and Cornwall Police)

Lowe admitted to officers that he had killed Noden and disposed of her body, but later denied this and pleaded not guilty to murder.

However, a jury of six men and six women convicted him on Thursday following nine hours and 35 minutes of deliberations.

Speaking after the trial, Detective Inspector Ian Ringrose of Devon and Cornwall Police said Lowe had put Noden’s family through “living hell” by refusing to disclose where he had disposed of her body.

“Lowe had made certain disclosures in the Facebook messages and to the arresting officer to suggest that he had killed Kirby, disarticulated her body and disposed of her remains,” he said. “The forensic examination of the scenes supported this and that there had been a sustained attack on Kirby and that Lowe was the person responsible for that assault.”

Noden’s remains were never found and Mr Ringrose said an “extensive and complex” investigation had been required to prove she was no longer alive

“This has required extensive nationwide and international enquiries,” he added. “Miss Noden’s family have been put through a living hell with Lowe not disclosing where he disposed of Kirby’s body and denying all knowledge in court. Lowe added to their upset by insisting that Kirby was still alive.”

Lowe, who was not in court to hear the verdict, described during the trial how he and Noden spent Christmas 2016 together “taking drugs and self-harming”.

He claimed that he last saw her between 10 and 15 January, that she left him for another man and was living in South Africa.

However, the prosecution said Lowe beat Noden to death and then disposed of her body. She is presumed to have been dead by 14 January, when Lowe attempted to use her bank card to withdraw money from an ATM.

“Having killed her, the defendant moved her body, probably in pieces, and cleaned up the worst of the blood and cutting away the worst of the carpet,” said prosecutor Paul Dunkels. ”For four months, from mid-January to mid-May, he lived on in the flat in the state it was in.

“Living in the midst of what he had done must have been gruesome.”

Mr Dunkels said Noden’s blood was “splattered” around the bedroom, soaked into the mattress where her body had been laying, and was on the weapons used to murder her.

He said: “No one other than the defendant knew what had happened to Kirby Noden for five months until May of last year when the defendant began to send text messages to members of his family in Cheshire that there has been a body on the floor of the flat which he had cut up and put into bins and down the toilet.”

Jurors were shown images of blood stains discovered in the flat by police on the walls, ceiling and mattress.

They also saw text messages sent by Lowe, who told his cousin: “She’s dead and has been chopped up and put down the toilet and in the bins down the road.

“Either I’m getting set up or I’ve murdered Kirby. I had a blackout, hazy memory and woke up with a body on the floor. I am scared so I just got rid.

“I put the body in the bins down the road. I remember the binmen finding all the meat and didn’t know what it was. The carpet was lifted because of the body matter.

“It took a week to get rid of the body, it was horrible. Head’s gone. I know what I saw, it was real, it seems real. Either Kirby dead or set up.”

In his evidence, Lowe told jurors he had known Noden since they were children because his father and her mother had been friends.

The couple, originally from Winsford in Cheshire, started a relationship aged around 25, later moving to Torquay together before becoming homeless and walking the coast path to Cornwall and ending up in Penzance.

The couple lived in a tent before moving to the flat in Marazion. Lowe described this as a bad time because they had been “homeless quite a lot, drinking on the streets, taking drugs and trying to forget bad memories”.

Mrs Justice May requested relevant details from psychiatric reports before she sentences Lowe, who faces life in prison.

Sentencing was adjourned until next week at Exeter Crown Court.

In a statement, Noden’s family said: “Dean Lowe has taken away from us something totally precious, and although we welcome this verdict, it will never replace our loss.”

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