How the case against Lyndsey Vaux's killer unfolded

Lyndsey Vaux
Lyndsey Vaux

Tragic Lyndsey Vaux was a victim of modern day slavery, the man who brought her killer to justice said today.

And in all his 33 years of policing, senior investigating officer Bob Tonge says he has never seen a worse case of sustained, savage domestic violence.

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Murderer Becky Reid

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During the five years that young mum Lyndsey was in a same sex relationship with Becky Reid, she sustained an appalling catalogue of injuries, including multiple fractures, none of which was ever treated at hospital.

Many witnesses testified to the violence inflicted on the 30-year-old by Reid and her disabled mother.

At the time of her death, Lyndsey had 90 identifiable external injuries on her body - which Becky Reid preposterously put down to the victim’s frequently falling over due to a thyroid problem and her refusal to take medication.

Given that bruises eventually fade and that attacks had been witnessed for years, the number of wounds inflicted on Lyndsey could have numbered many hundreds.

A post-mortem examination found that she had suffered a broken hip in the three to six months before her death (people reported her walking with a limp, dragging her leg behind her), two breaks to her right arm, one to her left and multiple rib fractures which would have been inflicted from longer than six months earlier to as recently as 10 days.

Mr Tonge said that Lyndsey moved in with the Reids in 2011 weighing around 16st but by the time she died in May 2016, she was half that weight.

Little wonder. Murder squad detectives learnt that Lyndsey would have to scavenge in bins for food. Footage of her in a shop – where she would be made to go shopping for the Reids but never herself – show her propping herself up against the counter because she is so weak.

In a rare confession to her mum, Lyndsey told her that when Becky was short of cash she would send her out to go knocking on doors begging for money. If she did not get any, she would not let her back in.

Mr Tonge said it was a classic case of controlling, bullying behaviour. An early and astonishing example of how far and pernicious this control was came when Becky gave her new partner an ultimatum: choose between her or Lyndsey’s then six-year-old daughter Aaliyah.

Lyndsey thereafter left the youngster with her mum in Stockport and came to live with Becky.

It proved, ultimately, to be a fatal choice.

At 5.24am on May 22 last year, Gillian Reid called an ambulance to her home at 23 Sydney Street, Platt Bridge, to say that her daughter’s partner had collapsed. The thyroid excuse was immediately trotted out.

Paramedics arrived to find Lyndsey not breathing. For a short while they managed to resuscitate her, but she never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead on arrival at Wigan Infirmary.

The hospital immediately raised concerns about the extensive bruising that staff had found to many parts of the deceased’s body. The autopsy then uncovered the bone fractures, both recent and historic.

The conclusion was that no one violent event had killed Lyndsey. Her body had simply “packed up”, Mr Tonge said, after so much sustained trauma. It was death by cumulative abuse.

Becky Reid, 32, was arrested initially on suspicion of assault but, after questioning, was released on bail pending further inquiries.

By now Greater Manchester Police’s serious crime division had begun to show an interest in the case after reviewing the evidence. And after senior investigating officer Mr Tonge spoke to Wigan officers about it, a full-scale murder inquiry was launched.

One line was to go through Becky Reid’s history. She had not one conviction for violence, but files did throw up an alleged attack on her then partner of four years Samantha Newns on June 20, 2008.

Paramedics had been called to a house in Stanley Place, Scholes, on June 20, 2008 by the partner of Becky’s sister Felicity who had walked in to find Samantha badly injured. It turned out she had suffered a fractured eye socket.

Police interviewed the victim but while she blamed Becky Reid, she refused to press charges and so the investigation was dropped.

But Mr Tonge’s team managed to track down Samantha, explained that her ex was now a murder suspect and asked if she would reconsider testifying.

After some time she came back and agreed. It emerged that the broken eye socket incident - after which the relationship ended - was the culmination of physical abuse against Samantha, sometimes by Becky Reid alone, sometimes in tandem with her mother, 56.

She said he had been attacked around 50 times during the controlling relationship; the final straw came at the bungalow when Becky launched a ferocious assault.

Samantha was first punched on the nose, then dragged into the bathroom to be punched, kicked and stamped upon.

When Becky dragged Samantha back into the hall, the victim turned to Gillian Reid and said: “Sort out your daughter!”

But instead of coming to her aid, the mother punched her in the mouth, knocking one of her teeth out. She then put her foot across Samantha’s throat, pinning her to the floor while her daughter continued punching Samantha in the head and striking her with some unidentifed blunt instrument.

One of the injuries that would later be found on Lyndsey’s body was a throat injury which could have been sustained by having a foot applied to it, and suggestive that Gillian Reid was a party to at least some of the attacks.

The onslaught against Samantha ended when Felicity and partner Tony arrived and rang 999.

As the Vaux investigation progressed, officers interviewed many people who had witnessed physical attacks on Lyndsey both outdoors and in front of others at home by both of the Reids.

Lyndsey, one of five children, had been living with her mum Ann, daughter Aaliyah, sister Coday and brother Shane. She had previously gone out with Becky Reid’s cousin Tyron and in fact it was he that introduced them.

Once she moved to Wigan, though, Lyndsey had very limited contact with any of her family, not only because Becky prevented it but also because the relatives were appalled with whom she had grown close to.

Lyndsey never complained about violence or bullying to her family but Ann reported to police that any money she sent to her daughter had to be paid into Becky Reid’s account and there were times when she would hear Reid in the background barking expletive-peppered orders at Lyndsey to tell her mother to give more cash.

Police say they don’t think that Becky Reid has ever had a job, while her mother was also in receipt of benefits and sometimes drove a mobility scooter, although that didn’t prevent her being violent when she wanted to.

Forensic examination of the Sydney Street property found blood spots in every room and every one of them were Lyndsey’s and no-one else’s.
Officers also found another woman who, four years before, Becky Reid had been trying to form a relationship with.

Nothing came of it, but the woman reported that Reid had obsessively bombarded her with calls, texts and other messages in a frighteningly persistent, “I-won’t-take-no-for-an-answer” manner that investigators felt showed just how possessive and controlling the woman could be.

Mr Tonge said: “We talk about modern-day slavery and this is no different. This is my 33rd year of policing and in terms of sustained domestic violence, rather than one isolated fatal onslaught, this is the worst I have seen.

“It’s the sustained violence of years at the hands of terribly abusive people.

“We have a number of pieces of CCTV footage for when Lyndsey was sent out on errands – never for herself, always for Becky and Gillian – and you can see the physical deterioration. The abuse took her down and down and down.

“Becky Reid is incredibly obsessive, compulsive and cruelly controlling as well as violent. But she does not recognise she has any kind of problem: she has not admitted to laying a finger on her.

“We had witnesses who saw Lyndsey being attacked outside, then being dragged indoors and there being horrendous screaming. Sometimes it was a double act with both Reids, sometimes not. But we were convinced that both had a hand in this poor woman’s death.”

As far as Lyndsey’s state of mind is concerned, Mr Tonge added; “She was a not untypical domestic abuse victim.

“They stay in the abusive relationship through fear. They get used to being controlled by people like Becky Reid. She was just worn down and controlled.

“It was almost involuntary in the end why she stayed. Becky Reid was able to identify a vulnerability - and there is nothing wrong with being vulnerable - that she was able to exploit.”

The two Reids were charged with Lyndsey Vaux’s murder and causing Samantha Newns grievous bodily harm with intent on October 5 last year. They had been bailed to different addresses because Gillian Reid had said that “if anyone had attacked Lyndsey, it wasn’t me, it must have been our Becky.”

The daughter maintained the line that Lyndsey’s catalogue of injuries were all accidentally caused by her thyroid condition.

Lyndsey’s funeral took place at Stockport Crematorium on July 5.