THE family of murder victim Natalie Saunders say they will never get justice unless her killer suffers the "same brutality" he subjected her to.

Stephen Charlton was told his defence that an intruder must have crept into their bedroom as he slept and left the 33-year-old with horrific injuries was “utterly ludicrous”.

The unemployed drug-user is now facing a life sentence for the killing at Miss Saunders’ home in Tomlinson Way, Middlesbrough, last October.

The jury of six men and six women took just 90 minutes to find the 24-year-old guilty of murder after a seven-day trial at Teesside Crown Court.

A family statement was issued after the verdict, it is reproduced here in full:

"I wish I could say that we have got justice for Natalie today, but we will never have justice unless that coward and evil monster Stephen Charlton suffers the same brutality he subjected Natalie to.

"The past seven months we have all been living a nightmare but no words could ever express how much Natalie was suffering, the pain she endured and the physical and mental torture she encountered. To re-live her final months alive that were blighted with both physical and mental abuse was heartbreaking and her final 24 hours where she was subjected to hours of attacks that tragically took her life in the end has scarred us for life. A life her children have to learn to live without a Mam who loved and adored her children.

"We would like to thank the witnesses for having the strength and courage to come forward. Many of whom were unknown to Natalie. We would also like to thank the team at Cleveland Police, the family liaison officers, the prosecution team, homicide support and CAMHS for not only getting Natalie justice but also the amazing support they have given the family at such a devastating time.

"Domestic violence has taken a precious life from us and left our family serving its own life sentence. No other family should have to experience what we have and will continue to go through. More importantly, no other person should have to suffer, especially in silence. Please anyone who is being subject to domestic violence whether physical or mental, big or small, please speak up. Every call or message is logged and plays a vital role when justice is being served.

"Speak up if it’s a neighbour, friend or maybe someone you don’t know because that call might just save someone’s life."