Man jailed for Wells murder

Antanas Jankauskas, 39, of Wookey has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 14 years and 10 months. Jankauskas pleaded guilty to murdering Sarah Ashwell at a hearing at Bristol Crown Court on Thursday 10 March.

Sarah was found dead on Sunday 7 November 2021 at her home in South Street. The Major Crime Investigation Team (MCIT) launched a murder investigation. During the course of the investigation four men were arrested on suspicion of murder, including Jankauskas. A fifth man was arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender. All were eliminated from the enquiry except for Jankauskas. He was charged with murder and appeared before magistrates on Saturday 13 November.

The Honorary Recorder of Bristol His Honour Judge Peter Blair QC said in his sentencing remarks that Jankauskas had deprived Sarah’s children of their mother and their mother’s love, adding that everyone in court would have been greatly moved by the family’s impact statements.

The court heard a personal statement giving the impact on Sarah’s family. It described the devastation and heartbreak of her parents at having their only child taken from them. It also talked of the effect on Sarah’s two sons.

Avon and Somerset Police made a mandatory referral to the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC). That was due to recent police contact with Sarah before her death. Now that criminal proceedings have concluded, the IOPC will carry out its independent investigation.

The following statement was issued by the family of Sarah Ashwell:

Today is another day of sadness for Sarah’s family.

We are very grateful to Avon and Somerset Police and their teams of officers who have been exemplary in their support for our grieving family, and in bringing this case to court. We especially want to thank DC Louise Findlay and DC Rachel Pople.

We are grateful to Victim Support, to our friends and members of the public, to Bridgwater Investigation Team 3 and to Detective Superintendent Gary Haskins. We will never forget the kindness of the officers who helped us.

For us, knowing that we will never see Sarah again, and never share the things families do, is heartbreaking.

After we told her youngest son what had happened, he said: “Mummy’s a star now” and asked if she was coming back. We had to stay strong for him but our hearts were breaking.

We will focus on him and his brother, and giving them the love and support they need.

Sarah was loved by so many people and she could communicate with anyone. She had so many achievements in her life. 

Justice has been done for her but we will never forget nor ever forgive the man who did this terrible thing. No punishment could ever be enough for what he has done.

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