THE brother and former partner of a woman strangled to death by her lover have spoken of their heartbreak as they struggle to come to terms with her death.

Sophie Moss was killed by Sam Pybus when he squeezed the life out of her during a 'sexual' encounter in February this year.

The 33-year-old mother-of-two was pronounced dead after Pybus waited at least 15 minutes before handing himself into the police.

In an emotional statement read out by Miss Moss' brother, James, he said: "To put into words the impact the tragic death of my beloved sister Sophie has had on my family seems impossible.

"For me, losing my little sister feels like I have lost a part of myself. We grew up together with an age difference of 18 months, talking, laughing, arguing.

"When went to school together for ten years. She was joyous, vibrant, funny, talented and fearless - unless she saw a spider."

The Northern Echo: Sophie MossSophie Moss

Struggling to contain his emotions, he added: "When I received the call from my mum crying down the phone saying the worst possible thing had happened I immediately broke down. I cried almost constantly on the way home, I'm crying as I write and I cry almost inconsolably, regularly."

Mr Moss, who now lives in south London, has worked tirelessly to support his mother Jillian and his father, Roger, who suffers with dementia, in the months since Sophie was killed by Pybus.

He added: “Somehow we must come to terms with never knowing the full circumstances.

“We will never be able to shake the belief that whatever the nature of their relationship, and her role in it, that she was a victim – taken advantage of and exploited - and was subjected to an entirely avoidable an infinitely tragic end.”

Daniel Parkington, the father of Sophie Moss' children, spoke of the devastating impact of having to try to protect their children from learning the truth of their mother's death.

His statement, which was read out in court, said: “Since early February, we as a family have had to deal with the devastating news we received – it took me weeks to tell the boys that their mummy had died.

"I’ve told the boys that their mummy was really sick and in hospital unfortunately the doctors did everything they could to save her but she was too poorly. What else do I tell them?"

The Northern Echo: Sam PybusSam Pybus

Pybus, of Water View, Middleton St. George, Darlington, was charged with murder but the Crown Prosecution Service has accepted his plea of guilty to manslaughter.

He was jailed for four years and eight months.

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