Husband strangles estranged wife to death after she turns down his £100 offer to have sex with him 'one last time'
Martin had accused Sophie of 'rubbing salt into his wounds' by seeing other men, according to text messages recovered from one of his phones
Thirty-five-year-old Martin Cavanagh and his wife, Sophie, 31, got married in September 2011, but separated within five years in December 2016 after his "controlling jealous and possessive behavior". Nonetheless, the couple still tried to patch things up and do things together.
They visited Wingham Wildlife Park in Kent before meeting friends at a pub on May 19. However, the next day, Sophie was found dead at her apartment in Bromley, South London, Daily Mail reports.
During Martin's trial at the Old Bailey, text messages exchanged between him and his wife were read out in front of the court. "I want to have you one last final time," read one of the texts sent by Martin.
Prosecutor Alexandra Healy told the court: "Sophie Cavanagh was only 31 at the time of her death in May this year. The defendant strangled her at some stage on the night of 19 May in her flat in Bromley either late at night or very early in the morning on 20 May. She and the defendant married in September 2011. The defendant had a controlling, jealous and possessive manner both during the period of time that they were together in that relationship and after a point in time when they separated, but remained married."
She added: "He had a short fuse and got angry quickly. Mr. Cavanagh continued to be jealous and tried to control Sophie. If she attempted to start a relationship with other men they would not last long because he would find out and control the people she was talking to."
According to Healy, just a few days before the incident, Martin had confided in a friend saying he had offered Sophie £100 to sleep with him, but she refused. He even accused her of "rubbing salt into his wounds" by seeing other men, according to text messages recovered from one of his phones.
CCTV footage showed the duo at the aforementioned wildlife park before they met friends at The Chatterton Arms at about 5.30 pm on the day of the alleged murder. Authorities found Martin's phone in the kitchen bin and said it looked like someone had tried to chop it up with a pair of scissors. An investigation of the device revealed that Martin had used it to access the internet for long periods on the evening of May 19. "It is an indication that whatever led to the defendant strangling Sophie, that his jealous obsession with finding out with whom she was in contact with on her telephone played a part," said Healy.
She said that Martin's "obsession" with Sophie was evident after an incident that took place four months before the alleged killing. The court heard that the pair had been out together for the evening but Sophie cut the meeting short saying she was seeing another man. Immediately after, Cavanagh sent a flurry of audio clips to a mutual friend asking him Sophie's whereabouts. He even sent a live video clip of him holding a "large curved knife" to his neck and then collapsing on the floor. Responding officers found that he was only pretending to injure himself on camera and that he was unhurt.
"The recordings demonstrate the state the defendant was in when he was obsessing about Sophie being with other men and was consumed with his jealousy," said Healy. "It shows the powerfulness of that jealousy and how it impacted on his behavior."
A pathologist who examined Sophie's body found that her injuries were consistent with her being strangled anywhere "from between 15 and 30 seconds up to a few minutes."
"Should it become relevant, his view is that he does not believe that a single period of compression of the neck could have occurred followed by a number of hours of survival," the prosecutor continued. "Because if there had been a grip for a period of time which was then released so someone was no longer having that blood supply interfered with then the circulation of blood would be restored. Oxygen levels could then have increased, the heart rate could then have settled and the individual would no longer be at risk of death."
Speaking to jurors, she said: "The prosecution case is that the defendant murdered Sophie Cavanagh by strangling her. He was, we say, consumed with jealousy and unable to accept the end of their relationship."
According to multiple reports, Martin daubed words on a whiteboard at the residence after the murder, suggesting that "she deserved it" and that "now she was dead there would be no more suffering". He even rummaged through Sophie's handbag "maybe in part with a view to using that cash to make good his escape and disappear from the scene," the court heard. "He also took steps to make it look as though Ms. Cavanagh had died in her sleep by taking off her clothes and placing her in bed," Healy added. Martin eventually turned himself in four days later on May 24, but did not answer any questions "as he is perfectly entitled to do".
Healy asked Lucy Larkin, Sophie's half-sister, how things were after the pair broke up on Boxing Day 2016. "As far as Sophie was concerned, did she begin to try and form any kind of relationship with anybody else?" asked Healy. According to Lucy, her sister tried to, but "Martin would find out somehow and end up texting them or just making her life hell."
The sisters discussed a message Martin had sent just days before the incident, which Sophie showed Lucy. "It asked her to sleep with him for one last time for £100," Lucy explained. "She seemed shocked and quite disgusted at it."
Martin has denied all charges against him. The trial continues.