BY TOBY PORTER
A man who subjected wife to a campaign of harassment before callously murdering her has been jailed. Martin Cavanagh, 35, of Chatterton Road, Bromley, was sentenced on Monday to 16 years’ imprisonment for the murder of 31-year-old Sophie Cavanagh, the mother of his two children.
He had been found guilty of murder at the Old Bailey on Friday, December 7.
In a statement, Sophie’s family said: “This has been a horrific time for our family. That nasty, controlling, abusive man deserves to rot in prison for the rest of his life for taking our beautiful Sophie’s life away from her and her babies and family, in such a despicable way, just because she no longer wanted to be with him.
This is a nightmare no family should have to go through. “We wish to thank the investigation team for their hard work and support throughout this ordeal.”
The court heard how Cavanagh had been in a fractious relationship with Sophie for 10 years but they had been living apart for around two years before he murdered her.
On the evening of Saturday, May 19 they spent the day with their children before visiting a pub and returning to Cavanagh’s address.
The following morning, he went to his mother’s house and asked her to look after his two children, and then left.
When she could not get in touch with him later that day, two friends went to his house to check where he was – and found Sophie’s body on a makeshift bed.
A post-mortem examination found the cause of death as compression of the neck.
Cavanagh went on the run but turned up at Bromley police station five days later, on Thursday, May 24 where he was arrested on suspicion of murder.
He was charged on Monday, May 28.
Detective Chief Inspector Richard Vandenbergh, of the Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: “This has been a tragic case to investigate.
Sophie was a young woman who lost her life in her prime to a man who was controlling and abusive, and whom she had been petitioning for a divorce.
“Cavanagh will now have a significant amount of time to reflect upon the irreparable damage his wicked actions have caused to her family, and especially his own two young children; they have been robbed of a loving mother by their own father.
“A custodial sentence will, I’m sure, serve of little comfort to Sophie’s family, but I hope they will appreciate that justice has been done.”
Sophie, a cleaner and online make-up sales assistant, lived in Albatross Gardens, Croydon, while Cavanagh moved to Chatterton Road in early 2018.
Cavanagh would harass Sophie and monitor her online activity, interfering with anyone she may have been speaking to and making unsubstantiated claims about her personal life.
In the days before the murder Cavanagh had been pressuring Sophie to sleep with him for money, which she refused. She had been preparing the grounds for a divorce.
The family-of-four are believed to have visited the Wingham Wildlife Park in Kent before returning to Cavanagh’s address on the day of her murder.
They were later joined in a pub by two friends, who thought they seemed in good spirits. The pair returned to Cavanagh’s address at around 8pm.
At about 8.10am the following morning, Cavanagh’s mother was woken at her home in Beckenham by her son, who was outside shouting at her to open the front door.
He asked her to look after his two children for a couple of hours, telling her as he left that he needed to go to the police station.
Cavanagh’s mother could not get an answer from him later on that day, so asked the two friends he and Sophie had spent the evening before with to go to his home and see if he was ok.
They found a window open and called out but got no response and left.
Cavanagh’s mother then gave them a key to the flat – and there they saw two feet poking out from beneath a quilt on a makeshift bed in Cavanagh’s bedroom.
Cavanagh’s mother arrived with her other son and daughter and called an ambulance and police at 6.13pm. Sophie was pronounced dead at the scene.
Officers found a children’s whiteboard in the corner of the room displaying a written message: “U no who u r, so 2 u I say Fnk u + I realy do love u. She deserved it. And now me my angel and my princess. Can be 2 geva 4eva and we will Have love and happyness like we deserve.”