Sarah Henshaw: Darren Hall handed life sentence for murder
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A carpet fitter who killed his ex-partner in Ilkeston before dumping her body in a layby has been jailed for life.
Darren Hall murdered Sarah Henshaw at her home in Ilkeston before dumping her body miles away in an isolated layby.
The 31-year-old had told Hall, who she had recently split up with, to leave the house after he let himself in with a key he had kept to the property in Norman Street, on June 20, 2023, and later that evening a loud bang was heard from inside the house.
Hall would later tell friends and family that Sarah had simply left the house and that he had no idea where she was. He did not immediately report her as missing – instead he methodically covered his tracks returning to Sarah’s home and disposing of a number of items, including her dressing gown and slippers which officers found in a nearby skip.
The trial heard how Hall acted normally in the days after her murder, going about his daily business as if nothing happened.
Three days after she had been killed the force was contacted with concerns that she had not been seen. Officers forced their way into her home before quickly arresting Hall.
The following day he was interviewed by officers who, after being asked where Sarah was, assured them that no harm had come to Sarah, that he did not know where she was, and that he hoped she was still alive.
Asked about the night of June 20 he concocted a story about being woken by the pet dog having a fit, banging into the furniture, which caused an argument between the pair.
Hall said he took their duvet, which was too big for their washing machine, to his van and then drove around.
He said he drove for an hour and eventually told officers that he had headed north on the M1 and had come off at junction 29.
When he returned to Ilkeston, he said Sarah left saying she was going to a friend’s house and that was the last time he had seen her.
In further interviews when questioned about Sarah’s disappearance, which was now being treated as a murder investigation, he told officers that he didn’t know where she was and that it was “their job” to find her.
Meanwhile the murder investigation team were trawling through information about the 36-year-old's whereabouts in the early hours of June 21.
Phone data showed that he drove to the A617 bypass that runs between junction 29 of the M1 and Chesterfield – stopping at one of the laybys on the west-bound carriageway. When his phone was forensically examined it showed that his torch was turned on and off during a 9-minute period.
A search team were sent to the layby on the evening of 25 June – and in the early hours of the following day they found Sarah’s badly decomposed body in a wooded area five metres away from the road.
When questioned about Sarah being found in the layby, he stayed silent.
During the two-week trial at Derby Crown Court, Hall, of HMP Nottingham, admitted dumping Sarah’s body but said that he panicked after she accidentally fell down the stairs during an argument.
Yet officers found no forensic evidence of Sarah falling down the stairs, no injuries consistent with a fall and he gave no credible explanation as to why he did not seek immediate medical help for her.
Instead he lied, covering his tracks because he knew the truth – that he had killed her and then dumped her body in the hope that she would never be found.
The jury saw through his tissue of lies and, after deliberating for just over four hours, found him guilty of her murder.
Today (19 December), at the same court, Hall was sentenced to life in prison and must serve a minimum of 17 years in prison before he can be considered for parole.
Detective Inspector Maria Pleace, who led the investigation, said: “Sarah was just 31 years old when Darren Hall made the decision to end her life.
“Paying tribute to her following her murder her family told of how kind she was and how she would always put others first.
“Sadly, this much-loved young woman had the misfortune to come into Darren Hall’s orbit – not knowing the horrific actions that he was capable of.
“Hall has never given a true account of his actions that night and, rather than face the reality of what he had done, he did everything in his power to evade justice.
“In killing Sarah, he has devastated her family leaving them mourning the loss of a daughter, niece, sister, and friend.
“And to compound their loss Hall also stole their last chance to say goodbye to Sarah - his attempts to hide Sarah’s body meant that, heartbreakingly, her family were unable to see her and say a final farewell.
“I hope that today’s sentencing gives Sarah’s family and friends the chance to close this chapter and begin the process of re-building their lives.”