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A 49-year-old man has been found guilty of murdering Kayleigh Dunning in Portsmouth in December 2019.
Mark Brandford, of Kingston Crescent, Portsmouth, was today (Monday 22 February 2021) found guilty of 32-year-old Kayleigh’s murder by a jury sitting at Portsmouth Crown Court.
He denied killing his lover Kayleigh, who was found in his flat on Kingston Crescent with fatal sharp and blunt force injuries to her head and neck by paramedics shortly before 10pm on December 17 2019.
He was also found guilty of a second charge of disclosing private sexual films without the consent of Kayleigh Dunning, an individual who appeared in the film, with the intent of causing her distress between October 22 2018 and December 17 2019; a charge which he also denied.
Brandford is due to be sentenced at Portsmouth Crown Court on Friday 26 February.
The court heard how Kayleigh had been reported missing by her father on the afternoon of December 17 after she failed to turn up for work that morning or respond to messages and calls from family, friends and employers.
During the trial, prosecutor Simon Jones QC told the court how Brandford had proposed to Kayleigh on the evening of December 16, before posting photos of a “seemingly happy-looking Kayleigh” on social media and telling numerous acquaintances that she had accepted his proposal.
The next morning, on December 17, jurors were told how Brandford had left his flat early, returning later that evening at 9.39pm to make a “sham” 999 call reporting the discovery of Kayleigh’s body, in which he “was going through the motions of the grief-stricken fiancé.”
Mr Jones added that Brandford could be “highly jealous” and had confessed to being angry when Kayleigh had accidentally called him the pet name she used for her other lover.
After today’s verdict, Detective Inspector Adam Edwards, Senior Investigating Officer for the case, said: “We are pleased with today’s verdict and would like to thank all those involved in this investigation, who have worked tirelessly to ensure that the person responsible for Kayleigh’s death was brought to justice.
“Kayleigh has been described by those that knew her as an outgoing, chatty and passionate young woman. Our thoughts remain with her friends, family and all those that knew her today.”
Following her death, Kayleigh's family released the following tribute:
“Our precious daughter Kayleigh Louise Dunning – 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.”