Pilling murderer to serve at least 12 years

A KILLER from Pilling who strangled a man with a light-pull cord following a drunken one-night stand must serve at least 12 years behind bars, a judge has ruled.

Daniella Fiona Johnson, now 33, throttled 55-year-old George Adamson for no clear reason the night after they met and had sex for the first and only time.

She attacked him as he lay "drunk or sleeping" on the sofa, said Mr Justice Openshaw, manoeuvring herself behind him and strangling him with a cord from a light-pull.

Mr Adamson, of De Lacy Street, Ashton, Preston, died rapidly from asphyxiation, said the judge, adding that there was "no apparent motive'' for the murder.

Johnson, of St John's Avenue, Pilling, was jailed for life at Preston Crown Court in May 2003 after admitting Mr Adamson's murder.

She claimed the November 2002 killing occurred after Mr Adamson himself tried to bind her with the light cord, resulting in a struggle in which she ended up slipping the ligature round his neck and throttling him.

But the judge rejected her story, finding that Johnson had attacked Mr Adamson as he lay supine and "defenceless'' on the sofa. There was also evidence that the next day she told friends she had "killed a man by strangulation.''

Johnson had told one friend that she "held the ligature tight until he stopped moving'' after her victim began to shake.

She and Mr Adamson had met in a Preston pub only the night before his murder, returning to his flat where they had sex.

After reviewing her case today at London's High Court, Mr Justice Openshaw ruled Johnson must serve a minimum jail 'tariff' of 12 years for her crime.

After time spent on remand is taken into account, that means she can ask the Parole Board to free her in late 2014.

In setting the tariff, Mr Justice Openshaw said he had received 'moving' statements from Mr Adamson's family, testifying to their grief at his loss.

At trial, Johnson had showed little emotion or remorse for her actions, but the judge added that she has since expressed some regret.

This factor, and evidence about her deeply troubled youth and childhood, justified a 12-year minimum term sentence, he added.

Once she has served her minimum tariff, Johnson will be freed if she can persuade the Parole Board she poses no serious public danger. When released, she will remain on perpetual "life licence" - subject to prison recall if she commits any further offence.