London Defender

The Daily Mirror of the Great Britain

Handyman to serve 12 years for strangling expat widow

Francisco Javier Becerra, 47, stuffed a handkerchief inside Lesley Anne Pearson’s mouth, it was said. He then stole cash from her wallet and buried her body.

The 74-year-old widow was found in a makeshift grave in the grounds of her home in Algar, near Cadiz, 10 days after she disappeared, as her killer tried to sell off her belongings.

Martial arts expert Becerra was convicted after nine jurors at a court in the south-west city of Jerez formally found him guilty of a crime of homicide.

It followed a two-day trial that went ahead despite his day one witness stand confession.

A state prosecutor had been seeking a 15-year jail term but accepted the lower sentence after reaching a deal with the defence lawyer, who claimed that Lesley’s death had been manslaughter before the case got to court.

Lesley’s brother Stephen Ramsbottom said: “It is not like in England, he doesn’t get any reduction. He will serve the full sentence.

“The prosecution originally wanted 15 years but because he admitted it straight away and was helpful, they chipped it down to 12-and-a-half.

“The sentence is probably not long enough but if he received 20 years in England, he would only serve 10.

“That’s what has been decided and we have to accept it.”

As well as jailing him, the judge also ordered him to pay £20,000 in compensation to Lesley’s brother. Mr Ramsbottom, from Rossendale, Lancs, added: “He is supposed to pay compensation but I haven’t got a penny of it.”

Lesley, a yoga teacher, had moved to another property on the Costa del Sol following the death of her husband Frank in a car accident three years earlier. She had hired Becerra to continue keeping her garden trim at her other home.

Becerra confessed to the July 2019 killing, but claimed he had lashed out in a fit of rage. At his trial, he insisted: “I didn’t want to hurt her.”

But jurors ruled he used his superior strength to end his 5ft 2in victim’s life “knowingly and willingly”.