MURDERER John Barry Garner will serve at least 22 years in jail for the brutal hammer attack that killed his partner Teresa Garner.

Garner, 51, killed his common-law wife in a frenzied attack with a claw hammer at their home in Llys Dewi in Penyffordd near Holywell on October 24 last year.

He was handed a mandatory life sentence by Judge Rhys Rowlands after being convicted of murder at Mold Crown Court with the judge saying it had been a “cowardly, brutal and sustained assault on his victim who was in no position to defend herself”

Judge Rowlands, who said he wasn’t satisfied Garner planned the attack beforehand, told him: “Clearly you are a dangerous individual who has shown precious little remorse for the dreadful violence inflicted on Teresa Garner.

“In reality the only tears you have shed have been for your own predicament.”

Ms Garner, 46, suffered 16 separate head wounds as Garner set upon her with a hammer. He bludgeoned her with it on the landing of their home and then carried on hitting her with the weapon while she lay helpless on the bathroom floor.

As Mrs Garner lay dead, Garner called the emergency services and declared: “I think I’ve murdered my missus”.

Mold Crown Court was told violent Garner served a four-month prison sentence in 2004 after hitting another former partner over the head with a brass candlestick.

He also broke Teresa Garner’s nose in a 2017 attack.

“Over the years there is evidence from former partners that you were violent and controlling over drink,” said the judge, who noted he had not sought help for his alcohol dependency.

The court heard that the relationship had been a stormy one.

Garner’s mood was said to have darkened with the re-emergence of Teresa Garner’s former lover, Stuart Jones, and began to meet up with his daughter, Kim Garner, from that previous affair.

After a chance meeting at a car auction he began to pay visits to the house in Penyffordd to see his daughter.

Garner is said to have retreated to a camper van which was parked on the drive of the property and drunk heavily.

He claimed he was so drunk – he was more than five times over the drink-drive limit - that he had no recollection of the killing with his counsel, Patrick Harrington QC, suggesting during the trial that his client was guilty of manslaughter.

He revealed Garner had written a letter to the court after his conviction, but Mr Harrington felt it was too “egocentric” to be read out.

“He is 51 and it is unlikely that he will ever come out of jail. He has not got the ambition to be free gain because he has lost everything he had.”

Judge Rowlands added: “It was a savage and quite merciless attack and I am quite satisfied that at no stage did Teresa Garner attack you or give you any cause for you to assault her that morning.

“Teresa was described as someone who would do anything for them without thinking. On the morning of the killing she was asked to help neighbour Edward Henderson, who uses a wheelchair.

“You not only ended her life but caused dreadful anguish to her family, her three children and her friends who now have to cope with her loss.”

Garner pleaded not guilty to a murder charge, but he was found guilty by a jury after an eight-day trial.