A bride to be woke up covered in branches and leaves after her fiancé strangled her and dumped her body in a shallow grave.
Stacey Gwilym, 34, managed to crawl out of the makeshift grave after her boyfriend, Keith Hughes, left her for dead on a coastal path. Hughes, 39, attempted to hide Ms Gwilym’s body under some bushes after his brutal attack. When police arrested Hughes he told them: “You’ll never find her” but he was surprised when they told him: “She’s alive”.
Hughes now faces life imprisonment after being found guilty of attempted murder.
Swansea Crown Court heard how the pair had started arguing while on a summer’s walk on a coastal path at Caswell Bay in South Wales. As things got “heated”, Hughes strangled her and hid her body after the fierce argument.
He said: “We were both shouting and arguing, things became heated. I lost my temper. I just wanted her to stop saying things about me… We were both saying horrible things to each other. She was hitting me, going mad. I wanted her to calm down.”
Hughes said he grabbed hold of her jumper and “my hands moved to her neck.” Then Ms Gwilym lost consciousness and fell to the floor. Hughes claims that he panicked and never intended to kill her.
He said, “I put her in the bushes and put some branches over her. I just felt terrible about what I had done. I thought she was dead. I just left.”
However the court heard how Ms Gwilym had come to under the branches and leaves after the attack in July. She told the police she’d “blacked out” during an argument and then woke up with covered in sticks and leaves.
She said: “I don’t remember everything that happened. I just went for help. My life will never be the same again.”
Hughes also admits to taking the key to her car and her Santander bank card after the attack. He then walked back to the village of Mumbles and drove her car to his flat, and began drinking before later crashing the car and being arrested.
Hughes said: “I wish I could turn the clock back. I regret what I did that day.” He was previously jailed in 2013 for three years and nine months on three charges of assault on Ms Gwilym and one of false imprisonment.
He said when he was in prison Ms Gwilym wrote to him and after he was released they began seeing each other again and in July, 2015, she agreed to marry him. He claims that he could not remember telling the police that she was dead and that he had buried her, or saying “you will never find her.”
Judge Paul Thomas said he was considering a life sentence because of Hughes’ past offences and the “harrowing” nature of the attack on Ms Gwilym. Hughes will be sentenced tomorrow.
After the case Ms Gwilym, said: “I’ve been through a terrible time and the case has been horrible… It was absolutely terrifying but I just want to move on with my life. I need to make a fresh start without him in my life.”