Jailed: Drug addict who strangled Poplar woman to death in her own home
- Credit: Archant
A drug addict who strangled a vulnerable mother-of-three to death in her Poplar flat when he feared his secret habit would get out has been jailed for 17 years.
The Old Bailey heard how Ian Kerr, 37, had taken the synthetic substance spice when he flew into a violent rage against fellow drug user Linda McArity at her flat in Salisbury House, Hobday Street on December 20 last year.
Ms McArity, who turned 50 two days before her death, had allegedly informed Kerr's girlfriend he had been taking illegal drugs, something he feared would prevent him gaining access to his young daughter.
Kerr was said to have watched Ms McArity, who had a history of mental health problems, die before stealing her debit card and extracting £360 from her Post Office bank account.
Sentencing Kerr, of no fixed address, Judge Richard Marks QC said: "She (Ms McArity) met a terrible death she did not deserve.
"She made her home available to you because she trusted you, but you were thinking only of yourself and your drug habit."
The court had heard how Kerr had previously lodged at Ms McArity's squalid council flat, but assured her family he would help "look after" its tenant.
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In a victim impact statement read before the court, Donna Sayers described how she was haunted by Kerr's protective words about her sister, with him previously telling her: "I will look after her (Ms McArity), don't worry, Donna - I promise."
Ms McArity's body was discovered by police in the lounge of her ninth-floor flat on December 30 after her family raised concerns.
Kerr was arrested in January and initially admitted the fraud, but denied killing her. Her body had been left to look as though she died by suicide.
He pleaded guilty to murder on Wednesday, November 13 and was sentenced the same day.
Prosecutor Philip Evans QC described how Kerr flew into a drug-induced rage at Ms McArity after an argument.
Mr Evans said: "He said he smoked a spliff laced with spice and this made him mad.
"He was annoyed money taken from burglaries had gone missing and he blamed Ms McArity.
"He said the victim had informed his girlfriend that he had taken illegal drugs and as a result his girlfriend would stop him seeing his young child.
"He made a (device) to strangle the victim. She hit him but he said he 'felt waves of aggression and felt buzzing' from the drug.
"He pulled (the ligature) with all his strength until she couldn't fight any more.
"He confirmed he watched her die."
Defending, Dean George QC said his client started using drugs following the death of his severely disabled 14-year-old son in 2014, and described the murder of Ms McArity as the manifestation of "a moment of anger".
Mr George said: "He cannot now for the life of him try to justify why the anger and taking of spice caused him to take that action on someone who he cared for."
The judge told Kerr he would serve a minimum of 17 years for murder, and two six-month terms, to run con-currently, for each count of fraud.
One count of preventing lawful burial of a body was ordered to lie on file.
Kerr showed no emotion as sentence was passed.