AN OBSESSED stalker has been jailed for life for murdering a Dorchester woman the day before she was going to make a formal complaint of sexual harassment against him.

Martin Corns killed Heather Jordan in a fit of jealous rage after she rejected his advances and tore up his final love letter.

A jury heard Miss Jordan, 34, moved to Taunton where parents and brother lived a few months before she was murdered.

Divorcee Corns, 52, who had become 'obsessive and controlling' of Miss Jordan, lay in wait and strangled her as she crossed Lyngford Park in the Somerset town on her way to an early morning cleaning job.

He tried to make the attack look like a robbery by stealing her purse.

He was later caught on CCTV going down an alley with a bag and returning without it. Miss Jordan's hoodie was found discarded in the area.

Corns denied murder but was found guilty by a jury at Exeter Crown Court and jailed for life yesterday by Judge Brian Forster with a minimum term of 17 years from the day of his arrest.

The judge told him: "I have read the family's personal statements. The house is empty, their days are empty. No sentence I can pass can meet that loss.

"You formed a friendship with Heather when she was a work colleague. You were possessive and extremely jealous and paranoid about whether she was committed to the friendship.

"You clearly imagined situations that did not exist. In my judgment Heather ended the relationship and you feared she might complain at work about your behaviour."

The judge added: "You intended to kill her and ignored her frantic efforts to release your grip as you strangled her to death.

"You strangled the person you had previously described in your letters as your beautiful princess. Even after you killed her, you had the presence of mind to try to escape responsibility."

Dorset Echo:

Love letter which Martin Corns sent to Heather Jordan and which she tore up

During a two week trial the jury heard about the unusual relationship between Corns and Miss Jordan which started after she moved from her home town of Dorchester to Taunton in late 2017.

She had cleaning jobs, one of which was at the Co-op where Corns worked. They started seeing each other and a friendship developed which lasted for two months before the murder.

They went on bus trips and exchanged 3,200 texts and calls in the month before the killing – two thirds from him to her and many checking on her movements.

The court heard that Corns wanted to have a sexual relationship with her but Miss Jordan only wanted to be friends. She said she was not ready to take the relationship 'to the next level' – and ended it two days before she was killed because she could not cope with his manipulation, jealousy and unfounded allegations.

He sent her a Valentine's Day card and roses days before the killing but she put the flowers in the bin.

She had told her family and colleagues that she was going to lodge a formal complaint on February 19 – the day before she was killed.

Corns, of Denmark Terrace, Taunton, had often walked Miss Jordan to work and was caught on CCTV with her on the morning before the murder.

After the murder he changed his story repeatedly when quizzed by police.

Dorset Echo:

Martin Corns being interviewed by police as a witness

The court heard Miss Jordan suffered from bouts of depression and previous attempts to form relationships had failed. Her family described her as a 'home bird' whose main interests were needlework and her six cats.

Detective Inspector Mike Buck led the investigation for Avon & Somerset Police, said: “I would like to pay tribute to Heather’s family and friends for supporting the investigation, for their courage and the dignity they showed at court."

HEATHER Jordan was raised in Dorchester and had worked in various jobs in the town, including as a cleaner at the Santander branch, and as a carer for vulnerable adults.

After her death, friend Becky Blackmore paid tribute to ‘a caring and loving person who put everybody else first’.

A candlelit vigil was held in Taunton after Miss Jordan's death.

Local vicar, the Rev Debbi Turley, said at the time: “It was an amazing response to see so many people there.

"They were so quiet as we went to light our candles in the park where Heather would have walked to and from work.

"As I stood at the shelter where she died, I looked back across the park to a great big line of lights. It was breathtaking and I nearly cried."