A murderer was caught driving his double decker bus to the airport in a bid to flee the country after killing his girlfriend.
Dane Messam, 52, killed his on-off partner Helen Anderson and dumped her body by the side of the road.
The couple had booked flights to Jamaica, but Messam called to cancel her ticket the day her body was found.
Ms Anderson, who has four children from a previous relationship, was discovered wrapped in a duvet and plastic sheet in a small wooded area off the A3 by a passerby on 23 August last year at around 3pm.
The 41-year-old had been in a relationship with Messam for the past five years and the pair lived together in Finsbury Park, North London.
They regularly travelled on a red and white decommissioned double decker bus and had most recently taken a trip down to Brighton .
‘I’m going to prison for this’
The day after her body was discovered, Messam drove the bus into London, but broke down and was forced to call a breakdown service.
Pictures taken by the recovery agent showed brushes and water buckets on board, which suggested it had recently been cleaned.
The next day, Messam was planning on driving the bus to a storage location before boarding his flight, detectives believe.
But he first drove to Guilford, passing the location where he had disposed of Ms Anderson’s body.
He then drove to Oxfordshire where he was arrested on suspicion of murder at a petrol station outside Bicester.
In custody, he told officers: “I’m going to prison for this and I don’t ******* care.
“I do care but there’s only so much somebody can take”.
Another man, who had been travelling on the bus with Messam was arrested on suspicion of murder, but later released without further action.
Ms Anderson’s family described her as a “dear sister and daughter” with a “big heart”.
Messam tried to blame a third man for Ms Anderson’s death, but he was also released without further action.
Messam, of Henry Road, Finsbury Park was sentenced to life with a minimum of 23 years in prison after a five-week trial at Guildford Crown Court where he was found guilty of Ms Anderson’s murder.
Messam acted in ‘self-interest’
Detective Chief Inspector Emma Vickers said: “This was a tragic case where a woman lost her life at the hands of a man she loved who abused her trust.
“Even with all the evidence against him, Messam continued to deny having any involvement in Helen’s death causing further pain to those who knew and loved her by putting them through the agony of a trial.
“He has acted entirely in self-interest.
“I am extremely proud of the officers involved for their work in ensuring Messam is now behind bars where he belongs.
“This was a large-scale investigation by Surrey and Sussex Police with assistance from our colleagues in the Metropolitan Police Service to secure evidence from Messam’s house in Finsbury Park.
“Our thoughts remain with Helen’s family who have demonstrated immense bravery throughout the investigation and the subsequent trial, despite having to hear distressing details about their loved one.”