The family of a woman whose boyfriend claimed she was alive and well in South Africa months after murdering her have been put through a “living hell”, police said.
Dean Lowe, 33, denied harming Kirby Noden, 32, and claimed she had set him up by spraying her own blood around their basement flat before leaving him for another man.
He had actually used a rock and metal pole to kill her in the bedroom of their home in Marazion, Cornwall, before dismembering her body and disposing of it in dustbins and down a toilet.
Truro Crown Court heard the murder was committed some time in January 2017 but did not come to light until May that year, when Lowe sent messages confessing what he had done to his family in Cheshire.
Police went to the flat, which had barely been altered since the murder, and Lowe admitted that he had killed Ms Noden and disposed of her body.
He later denied this and pleaded not guilty to murder but a jury of six men and six women convicted him of the charge following nine hours and 35 minutes of deliberations.
Speaking after the case, Detective Inspector Ian Ringrose of Devon and Cornwall Police said the case had been “extensive and complex”.
“This has required extensive nationwide and international enquiries,” he said.
“Miss Noden’s family have been put through a living hell with Lowe not disclosing where he disposed of Kirby’s body and denying all knowledge in court. Lowe added to their upset by insisting that Kirby was still alive.
“We hope today’s sentence gives them some comfort in the conclusion of the case and our thoughts and sympathies are with them.”
In a statement issued through the force, Ms Noden’s family said Lowe, who went on trial on April 24, had taken away “something totally precious”.
The defendant, who was not in court to hear the verdict, earlier told how he and Ms Noden spent the Christmas before her death “taking drugs and self harming”.
He claimed he last saw her around January 10-15, stating that she had left him for another man and was living in South Africa.
But prosecuting, Paul Dunkels QC said Ms Noden must have been dead by January 14, when Lowe attempted to use her bank card to withdraw money from an ATM.
“Having killed her, the defendant moved her body, probably in pieces, and cleaned up the worst of the blood and cutting away the worst of the carpet,” Mr Dunkels told the jury.
“For four months, from mid-January to mid-May, he lived on in the flat in the state it was in. Living in the midst of what he had done must have been gruesome.”
The court heard Ms Noden’s blood was around the bedroom, soaked into the mattress where her body had been lying and on the weapons used by Lowe to murder her.
In one message, Lowe told a cousin: “She’s dead and has been chopped up and put down the toilet and in the bins down the road.
“Either I’m getting set up or I’ve murdered Kirby. I had a blackout, hazy memory and woke up with a body on the floor. I am scared so I just got rid.
“I put the body in the bins down the road. I remember the binmen finding all the meat and didn’t know what it was. The carpet was lifted because of the body matter.
“It took a week to get rid of the body, it was horrible.”
Lowe, of Beacon Road, Marazion, told the jury he had known Ms Noden since they were children because his father and her mother had been friends.
The couple, originally from Winsford in Cheshire, started a relationship aged around 25 and moved into the flat in Marazion after a period of being homeless.
Mrs Justice May will sentence Lowe at Exeter Crown Court on Tuesday.