A British man has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a Canadian teenager who moved to England last year after meeting him online.
Essex Police said Monday that Jack Sepple will spend a minimum 23 1/2 years in prison for the death of Ashley Wadsworth of Vernon, B.C.
Wadsworth, 19, was stabbed and strangled during a sustained attack in the 23-year-old’s home on Feb. 1, police said.
Sepple pleaded guilty to Wadsworth’s murder last month.
Det. Supt. Scott Egerton said in a statement the evidence against him was “so overwhelming” that he had no choice other than to admit his guilt.
“My thoughts today are entirely with Ashley’s friends and family. Nothing will bring Ashley back, but I hope they find some comfort afforded by the sentence,” Egerton said.
In a statement shared by police, her mother Christy Gedron described Wadsworth as a beautiful and smart young woman, whose “love of and thirst for adventure” brought her to the U.K.
“You were the backbone of our little family,” her mother said.
Wadsworth’s Facebook page showed she moved to England last November. She posted photos of what she described as an “amazing trip to London” with Sepple just weeks before she was killed.
Police said Monday that on the day of the attack, two of the teen’s friends received texts saying she needed help and wanted to leave Sepple’s home. The texts asked the pair to come get her, but were followed by messages saying everything was “sorted.”
Concerned for their friends safety, the friends went to the address. They heard movement in the one-bedroom home but got not response so they called police, the statement said.
Officers arrived minutes later and forced their way into the property. They found Sepple in the bedroom on his mobile phone, next to Wadsworth’s body.
“Sepple calmly told officers the had strangled and stabbed Ashley,” the statement said.
Forensic investigators found a bloodstained knife behind a radiator in the lounge of the property, it said.
“Sadly, despite the best efforts of our officers and medics, Ashley, who had moved to the U.K. from Canada to be with Sepple, was pronounced dead at the scene.”
An autopsy found she had been stabbed more than 90 times and had bruising on her neck consistent with strangulation, police said.
During the investigation, officers discovered the messages telling her friends that everything was “sorted” had been sent after her death, police said.
Sepple was jailed for life at Chelmsford Crown Court Monday.
Gedron’s statement said her daughter had a moral and spiritual compass “second to none” and always looked out for others.
“When you helped someone, they knew they were loved,” she said.
Ashley’s father Kenneth Wadsworth also issued a statement via police saying she told him she wanted to take a year off to visit Sepple then come home and go to college.
Her father described her as a bright student who was quick to learn everything, from walking at seven months to playing sports.
“I wasn’t keen on you going to England, being away from everyone, but you are such a strong person and knew what you wanted in life,” he said.
The statement says he thinks about why she stayed with Sepple.
“It plays on my mind; at the same time, I know you are such a kind and loving person and would have just wanted to help him with everything that was going on.”
The police department said domestic abuse is a key priority and urged anyone who is affected by it, or knows some subject to abuse, to come forward and make a report.