A stomach-churning picture of a skeleton mask which was worn by a killer as he attacked his girlfriend has been released.

Alan Edwards was this morning jailed for a minimum term of 27 years after he was found guilty of the murder of Darwen woman Susan Waring.

New pictures released by the police following the court hearing show a mask which was covered in Susan’s DNA – which Edwards was believed to have been wearing while he attached her.

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen:

Susan’s body has never been found.

After Edwards was arrested in March 2019, a forensic examination of his flat in Blackburn Road, Darwen, found blood in various locations and on items throughout the premises.

More than 100 blood spots and traces of Susan’s DNA were discovered on a rubber Halloween skull mask.

Miss Waring’s mother reported her missing but, despite extensive police inquiries, her whereabouts are unknown and there is no evidence to say she is alive, Preston Crown Court was told.

Edwards was also convicted of offences against four other women, including causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and making threats to kill.

Those women entered the witness box and said they too were subjected to violent and controlling behaviour from Edwards at various times dating back to the 1990s.

Sentencing Edwards to life imprisonment after he was convicted by a jury last week, Mr Justice Goss told him: “At the end of January 2019 after a brief relationship of two months, during the course of which you were controlling and violent, you murdered Susan Waring.

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen:

“Precisely what you did and how is known only to you.

“Susan Waring was a small, underweight, vulnerable 45-year-old woman. She was blind in one eye, suffered from poor health and had learning difficulties.

“Her use of Facebook was her primary source of communications with her family which diminished during your relationship.

“There is no doubt she was frightened of and dominated by you. Your possessive and controlling behaviour ended with you taking Susan Waring’s life.”

He said his offending against Miss Waring and the four other complainants formed a “pattern of persistent abusive and violent behaviour towards women”.

Miss Waring’s brother, Peter Waring, read out in court a victim personal statement from the family and directly pleaded to Edwards in the dock to reveal her whereabouts so they could “lay her to rest and have some closure”.

Describing his sister as “gentle” and a person “who would never hurt a fly”, he said: “The last two years have simply been hell for us. A nightmare that has continued to cause us turmoil every day.

“Alan Edwards clearly manipulated Susan, preyed on her vulnerability and used her as a punchbag. This evil man has denied any wrongdoing and has told constant lies about his offending.”

The last confirmed public sighting of Miss Waring was when she was shopping with Edwards in Darwen on January 29 where her bank card was used to buy a stuffed meerkat toy.

In the days that followed, the defendant appealed via Facebook for Miss Waring to return or make contact but an examination of his mobile phone showed he was also visiting the hook-up website flirtymoms.com with “increasing regularity”.

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen:

READ: Sick bully jailed for life for murder of missing Darwen woman Susan Waring

Giving evidence, Edwards said he was “just browsing” and it was “something to pass the time, waiting for Susan”.

He said he did not know why she had disappeared and said he was still waiting for her to come back.

Detective Chief Inspector Pauline Stables, of Lancashire Police, said: “My heart goes out to each and every one of Edwards’ victims. I can only imagine the horrors they have been subjected to at the hands of such a cruel and violent man.

“I am glad we have been able to get justice for Susan’s family in terms of putting her killer behind bars but their suffering continues whilst her body remains missing and they cannot lay her to rest. Edwards continues to deny Susan’s murder and as such, is not revealing where he disposed of her body.

“If anyone thinks they know anything about where Susan may be, please contact us with any information, no matter how insignificant you think it may be.”