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Last Updated: Monday, 7 November 2005, 16:30 GMT
Fiance admits Valentine's murder
Paul Dyson and Joanne Nelson
Police believe Dyson strangled Joanne on 13 February
A man has admitted murdering his fiancee who he reported missing on Valentine's Day.

Paul Dyson, 30, pleaded guilty at Hull Crown Court to the murder of 22-year-old Joanne Nelson.

The body of Miss Nelson, a Job Centre worker, was found in woods near Malton, North Yorkshire, on 24 March, after a massive search by police.

Detectives believe Miss Nelson was strangled at their home in Hotham Road North, Hull, on 13 February.

Dyson had admitted the manslaughter of Miss Nelson at a previous hearing but denied murder.

Dyson spoke only once during the three-minute hearing to confirm his name and to enter his changed plea of guilty.

Miss Nelson's parents, Charlie and Jean, stared at him intently throughout his brief appearance and there was a muffled cry of "yes" from the packed public gallery as he entered his plea.

As each day passed, our hope of finding Joanne alive was replaced with the grim reality that we were looking for her body
Det Supt Ray Higgins

The court was adjourned until Tuesday morning for sentencing.

The disappearance of Miss Nelson sparked the biggest search operation ever carried out by Humberside Police involving hundreds of officers, volunteers and even the army.

Her body was eventually discovered by the detective leading the inquiry, Det Supt Ray Higgins, in a wood near Malton, North Yorkshire.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Higgins said: "I think Dyson's behaviour throughout all this has been thoroughly despicable.

"He built the family's hopes up for a period of the full week, from reporting her missing on the Monday right through to the Friday when he was arrested.

The Nelson family
Joanne [right] on holiday with her parents and two sisters

"He was with the family, giving them assurance, claimed to be giving them support, spent some time with the family and all throughout that time he knew just what he'd done.

"He knew he'd killed their daughter and he knew that he'd dumped her body."

He said officers feared something "dreadful" had happened to Miss Nelson very quickly after she went missing.

"As each day passed, our hope of finding Joanne alive was replaced with the grim reality that we were looking for her body."

They hoped in vain that Dyson's arrest would bring an end to the search.

"We knew that each day Joanne remained out there somewhere, the nightmare for her parents and sisters grew deeper," said Mr Higgins.

"That nightmare lasted 39 days. For us it was hard, for Joanne's family the pain must have been unimaginable.

"Throughout their despair, Joanne's family have shown great strength and dignity."

How police built the case against Paul Dyson

Dyson's father was also a killer
07 Nov 05 |  England

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