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Becky Watts: How a hunt for a missing teen turned into a grim murder inquiry

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 10/11/2017 By Telegraph Reporters
a person posing for the camera © Provided by The Telegraph

It was a crime that horrified the nation. 

When 16-year-old Becky Watts was reported missing on February 20, nobody, including police investigating the disappearance, were prepared for the tragic outcome 11 days later.  

Becky's father, Darren Galsworthy, and her step-mother Angie-May said her disappearance the day before was "out of character" and a social media campaign called #FindBecky was launched. 

Fears for the Bristol teenager grew as the investigation, chronicled on Thursday night in The Murder of Becky Watts: Police Tapes, started to focus on step-brother Nathan Matthews and his girlfriend Shauna Hoare. 

Undated Avon and Somerset Police handout photo of Nathan Matthews and Shauna Hoare © PA Undated Avon and Somerset Police handout photo of Nathan Matthews and Shauna Hoare

Matthews, then aged 28, and Hoare, 21, told police they heard the front door slam and presumed Becky had gone out for the day.

"They were really consistent in their accounts," Detective Chief Inspector Richard Ocone said.

"However the detective's side of my brain was saying that they fit together really conveniently and neatly. Even the best witnesses will provide accounts that are incorrect."

The investigation

When forensic officers discovered that a fingerprint found in some blood on the door frame of Becky's room belonged to Matthews, the pair were arrested - initially on suspicion of kidnap.

The coffin of teenager Becky Watts is taken from St Ambrose Church in Whitehall, Bristol at the end of her funeral. © PA The coffin of teenager Becky Watts is taken from St Ambrose Church in Whitehall, Bristol at the end of her funeral.

The fact that Matthews had been arrested didn't surprise her grandmother Pat. "If it was going to be something bad, it didn't surprise me. Nathan hated Becky and made it obvious," she said in the documentary.

In a statement at the time, Becky's family admitted their hopes of finding her alive were fading. "We continue to hope that she will be found safe and unharmed but we will prepare ourselves for the worst," they said. 

The investigation took a grim turn when officers searched the home of Matthews and Hoare. It was cluttered and dirty, except for the bath, which was spotless. And they found some receipts. 

Undated handout file photo of the bathroom at 14 Cotton Mill Lane, the home of Nathan Matthews © PA Undated handout file photo of the bathroom at 14 Cotton Mill Lane, the home of Nathan Matthews

"Those receipts indicated that somebody on the Friday, when Becky was reported missing, had been to B&Q and had bought a circular saw, some gloves, goggles, and a face mask," DCI Ocone said. "Does it really mean he has tried to dismember a body?"

When the police questioning became too much for Matthews, the horrific truth emerged. He had attacked his half-sister in her bedroom in Crown Hill and suffocated her. 

Admitting he killed her, he said he took her back to their home in Cotton Mill Lane and used a circular saw to cut up Becky's body in the bath. 

Her remains were found in a shed  on March 2, just 80 metres from their home.  

Cotton Mill Lane, Barton Hill, the home of Nathan Matthews, 28, and his girlfriend Shauna Hoare, 21 © PA Cotton Mill Lane, Barton Hill, the home of Nathan Matthews, 28, and his girlfriend Shauna Hoare, 21

"The nature of the find is horrific and shocking, I have never dealt with anything like this," DCI Ocone said. "And it will stay with me throughout my service, it will stay with me probably throughout my life."

For Mr Galsworthy, the full force of the tragedy didn't hit home until he identified her in the morgue.

“They did their best to cover up where he cut her up and things like that,” he said. “But I could still see where he’d decapitated her. And no parent should have to see that.” 

Darren Galsworthy (left) the father of murdered schoolgirl Becky Watts © PA Darren Galsworthy (left) the father of murdered schoolgirl Becky Watts

Matthews has tried to claim sole responsibility for the crime but Hoare's involvement emerged when police recovered deleted texts to Matthews from her phone. 

In the exchanges they discussed kidnapping young girls, taking them home and putting them in their loft. 

The trial

"There is good reason to believe there was also a sexual motive behind the scheme, arising from a shared unnatural interest in attractive teenage females, and that a foreseeable conclusion to it being carried out would either be Becky's death or serious injury,” the prosecutor said in the trial later that year. 

"She was suffocated, despite her fighting for her life." 

The rear garden of 14 Cotton Mill Lane, Barton Hill, the home of her stepbrother Nathan Matthews © PA The rear garden of 14 Cotton Mill Lane, Barton Hill, the home of her stepbrother Nathan Matthews

After her death she was stabbed 15 times in the abdomen and suffered slash wounds across her stomach, the court was told. 

"There followed a deliberate, carefully planned and grotesquely executed plan to cover up her killing.”

Matthews, hunched over the witness box, wept and twisted tissue in his hands as he gave evidence at Bristol Crown Court.

Taping her mouth with Sellotape, he told the court: "I said something along the lines of 'As long as you do as you're told you are going to be fine'."

File video: Becky Watts' Friend Speaks Out (Sky News)

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Becky did not resist Matthews until he tried to put her in the suitcase. "That's when she started like wriggling and resisting," he said.

He said he tried to subdue her by strangling her. "After that she stopped... stopped kicking," he said.

Describing the cutting up of her body, he said: "I just did it. I tried not to look. I did it and it was just like surreal, that's the only way I could explain it."

In November 2015, Matthews was convicted of Becky's murder and sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 33 years.

Father's life 'folded in on itself'

The father of Becky Watts, Darren Galsworthy watches a white dove fly away at the end of the funeral of his daughter © PA The father of Becky Watts, Darren Galsworthy watches a white dove fly away at the end of the funeral of his daughter

Hoare was found guilty of Becky's manslaughter and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

Shortly after her murder, Becky's brother spoke of his despair at her killing. 

"Can't believe what I'm hearing," Dan Galsworthy wrote on Facebook. "Really have lost faith in humanity this day. RIP sis love you forever and always xx".

Shortly after her son's conviction, Anjie said she still loved Nathan, but not the person he turned into.

The stepmother of murdered schoolgirl Becky Watts and mother of her stepbrother Nathan Matthews, Anjie Galsworthy © PA The stepmother of murdered schoolgirl Becky Watts and mother of her stepbrother Nathan Matthews, Anjie Galsworthy

“He’s a different person," she told Good Morning Britain. "He’s not the child I remember bringing up. I still love him, I just find it hard looking at the monster he’s turned into. He’s totally different from the child I brought up.”

Mr Galsworthy, meanwhile, told the ITV programme how his world '"folded in on itself" after the investigation turned from a missing person's case into a murder inquiry.

"They told me this (was) a murder inquiry and I know I started shouting at that point, 'Oh, no, no, no, no you're wrong, she's got to be alive."

Two years on, he told the Bristol Post that he blames himself. 

"As a father I feel I should have been there to protect her. But I went to work to provide for my family."

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