Woman jailed after sending intimate picture to ex-boyfriend who went on to kill

Sarah Bramley who is due to be sentenced on Monday for sending an intimate picture to her ex-boyfriend who then murdered the man in the image out of "jealousy". Photo credit: Tom Wilkinson/PA Wire
Sarah Bramley who is due to be sentenced on Monday for sending an intimate picture to her ex-boyfriend who then murdered the man in the image out of "jealousy". Photo credit: Tom Wilkinson/PA Wire

A woman at the centre of a love triangle which ended in murder has been jailed after she sent the jealous killer a photo of her performing a sex act on the man he went on to stab to death that night.

Sarah Bramley, 29, revelled in the drama of having violent David Saunders and kindly Michael Lawson vying for her attention at a time when she had "lost her moral compass" her barrister told Teesside Crown Court.

The pregnant mother-of-two was jailed for four months after she admitted encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence.

The guilty plea was on the basis that she thought Saunders would assault Mr Lawson.

But in the early hours of July 1 last year, shortly after receiving the photo, Saunders stabbed father-of-one Mr Lawson through the heart after Bramley had turfed him out of her Darlington home.

In December, Saunders was jailed for life at Teesside Crown Court with a minimum term of 22-and-a-half years, after he admitted murder.

Nick Dry, prosecuting, said: "It was never the Crown's case that Bramley had intended or encouraged that tragic outcome, rather that messages had contributed to the chain of events which ultimately led him to do as he did."

It was the culmination of a "love rivalry" with Bramley in the middle, the court heard.

Mr Dry said: "She was involved in an on-off relationship with both men over a period of months."

She continued to see Saunders despite her gaining a non-molestation order against him, and knowing he was capable of violence.

Mr Dry said: "Their text messages revealed a love-hate relationship involving sexually explicit messages of love mixed with highly offensive personal abuse.

"At the same time she continued to see Michael Lawson, a kind, mild-mannered man with whom she had previously holidayed abroad.

"Bramley declared her love to Saunders and then revealed she had recently slept with Mr Lawson.

"She appeared to revel in the drama and attention of the situation."

Both Bramley and Saunders were drinking as they exchanged unpleasant texts that night and into the early hours, and Saunders threatened to go round to attack Mr Lawson.

The argument continued and he sent a female friend of Bramley - who was with her at the time - a video of him and his ex having sex.

Bramley responded by sending him a photo of her performing oral sex on Mr Lawson taken that night, causing Saunders to become enraged and he got a taxi close to her home.

He arrived a short time after Bramley had got Mr Lawson out of her house and he was stabbed following a short chase.

She was later to tell the police she turfed Mr Lawson out because she feared what would happen if Saunders came to her house.

Within days she left to go to Australia and was arrested on her return to the UK in March.

Robert Newcombe, defending, said: "Miss Bramley had lost her moral compass at the time she was affected by substance abuse and alcoholism."

He made an apology on her behalf to the court and to Mr Lawson's family, who sat in the public gallery.

Judge Stephen Ashurst said: "Although you did not contemplate that Saunders would go on to kill Michael Lawson, I take the view it is hard to conceive a more serious case of encouraging the commission of a commons assault."

He noted that the sexual contact between Bramley and Mr Lawson and the messages she sent Saunders that night were done when her two young sons were in the property.

Bramley did not visibly react as she left the dock.

Outside court, Mr Lawson's uncle, Ray Scaife, said the family was not happy that she had been sentenced for encouraging common assault but they understood why it happened.

He said: "She knew what she was doing, she wound that guy up, knowing that he was violent.

"At the very least she knew Michael was going to get a good hiding."