A cheating dad who strangled a teenage girl, Lily Sullivan at a secluded beauty spot because she refused to have sex with him was told to “rot in hell” by her grieving relatives as he was handed a life sentence.
Lewis Haines had spotted Lily Sullivan, 18, while on a night out in Pembroke — but had been told “she’s far too young for you” and reminded by a friend that he had a girlfriend.
The 31-year-old was later seen walking with Miss Sullivan towards Mill Pond — a dark and secluded freshwater reservoir in the town — after they had been seen kissing.
But Miss Sullivan, who was due to be picked up by her mum and had called her to say she was on her way, was strangled to death when she refused the advances of predatory Haines. He then dumped her body in the reservoir. Her tobacco tin, mobile phone and leather jacket were later found strewn on the ground in the lane, and her crop top was found in vegetation near the reservoir.
Haines walked off from the scene of the crime — and even past Lily’s mum Anna, who was sitting in a car waiting for her daughter — before confessing to his girlfriend: “I’ve strangled someone.”
Swansea Crown Court heard that at the time Haines was going through family court proceedings to have access to his child, and had a girlfriend.
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Judge Paul Thomas QC said: “He strangled Lily in order to prevent her telling people he had tried to get her to go further than she was willing. His intention was to silence her. He didn’t want anyone to know what had happened in the lane.
“She must have been terrified. An 18-year-old girl all alone in the dark with a powerful man. She was entirely at your mercy and you, Lewis Haines, showed her none. You were entirely thinking about your own self-preservation.”
The court previously heard that Haines and Miss Sullivan had kissed after meeting in the Out nightspot on December 16 and later went to a nearby alleyway together where they became more intimate. Miss Sullivan had spoken to her mum and agreed to meet her at the Green Garage service station in Pembroke. And at 2.47am the teen told her mum she was just a couple of minutes away. However, at around 3am a neighbour was woken by a “female scream”.
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Haines went home in the early hours and said to his girlfriend Maisie John: “I’ve strangled somebody, they’re in the Mill Pond. I’ve been in the Mill Pond.” Miss Sullivan was later found face down and topless in the water.
Father-of-one Haines later admitted murdering Miss Sullivan but denied sexual misconduct — something that if had gone his way in court would have seen the starting point for his sentence halved.
However, after a trial of facts, Judge Thomas QC concluded Haines had killed the teenager after she rebuffed his sexual advances.
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Her mother Anna branded Haines “pure evil” and said she will never forgive him. In a powerful victim impact statement read to the court by William Hughes QC, prosecuting, she said: “The events of the night Lily died go over in my mind constantly and I wake up in the night picturing Lily in the water wondering if she knew what was happening, if she was scared.
“I wish I had stopped Lily going out that night. I picture the male responsible for Lily’s death who I saw in the garage and wish I’d confronted him.
“Knowing I was that close to her, I wish I’d gotten out of my car and walked. I will always wonder if I could have saved her.”
She called her only daughter “beautiful inside and out”, and a “forgiving, kind and loving” girl who loved music, was a talented artist and had been “robbed of her future”.
Haines was handed a life sentence with a minimum of 23 years and four months.
Judge Thomas said Haines “brutally” murdered Miss Sullivan because she did not want to have sexual intercourse with him. As she made arrangements to meet her mother Haines got “frustrated”, forcibly removed her top and strangled her, said the judge.
The judge continued: “Precisely what happened in that lane will never be known because you have chosen not to tell anyone. At least, not to tell the truth about it.”
Miss Sullivan’s family and friends shouted “rot in hell” and “monster” at Haines as he was taken down to the cells.
Following the conclusion of the case, senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Richard Yelland spoke to the media on the steps of Swansea Crown Court. He said: “On the evening of the 16th of December 2021, eighteen-year-old Lily Sullivan enjoyed an evening out with friends and never returned home.
“In the early hours of the following morning the violent and predatory actions of Lewis Haines took the life of Lily. Haines passed numerous opportunities to seek help for Lily when fleeing the scene of his crime. His selfish and cruel actions have changed the lives of all those who knew and loved Lily and the close-knit community of Pembroke.
“The life sentence handed down to Lewis Haines today, ensures that he will not be able to harm others in the community. Dyfed-Powys Police and our partners will continue to work tirelessly to bring to justice those who perpetrate violence against women and girls in all its forms.
“This sentence is no consolation for Lily’s family and friends, but I hope this will be a step forward in the slow process of rebuilding their lives. Today, my thoughts are entirely with them.”
Mrs Sullivan said: “I suffered 14 miscarriages prior to Lily being born. I had almost resigned myself to not having any children so when Lily was born it felt amazing. She gave purpose to my life, she was my little bit of normal.
“Everything made sense when she arrived. We were so close.
“She was a beautiful girl inside and out. She didn’t see that and lacked self-confidence.
“She always saw the good in people. She was not an angry person or confrontational.
“Lily was always good in a crisis.
“She was bright, funny and a talented artist.
“She was a typical teenage girl who loved clothes and makeup and mostly music. She adored house music.
“She had just started going out with friends on a regular basis.”
Mrs Sullivan added that her daughter had “so much to look forward to”. She had just started driving lessons and was going to college.