Died 11th July 2012
Linda Sheard (63) was found dead at home in Port Mer Close in the Brixington area of Exmouth, Devon, on Wednesday 11th July 2012. She worked as a secretary for a local building company DJH.
She had been strangled with a belt by her son, Andrew Cane (then 30). In July 2013 he was found guilty of her murder at Exeter Crown Court. Cane admitted manslaughter but denied murder. He was jailed for life and told he would serve at least 15 years.
Cane was drunk and high on cocaine when he attacked Ms Sheard. The attack followed an argument over his drug use. It was reported that Cane had moved into Linda Sheard’s house. He worked as a roofer for the same company as Ms Sheard.
The court heard Ms Sheard had found a wrap of cocaine in Cane’s bedroom at the house.
The jury was told she had already lent him £60,000 to pay off debts and warned him she would evict him if he ever took drugs in the house.
Cane told police Ms Cane pulled him back and slapped him as he tried to get away, knocking her to the floor of her bedroom. He also told police he could not remember how the canvas belt got around her neck and that he had been “trying to calm the situation” saying he “panicked” and let go after she started coughing.
In a later police interview, he admitted he took his mother’s purse and used her cash point card to buy cocaine.
Following the sentencing, Detective Inspector Gregg Dawe, of Devon and Cornwall Police said officers were “very satisfied” with the verdict and the sentence in “what was a unprovoked violent assault”.
He said: “Andrew Cane’s actions have left a family grieving for the loss of a loving mother, daughter, auntie and grandmother; and three children without a father for at least 15 years.”
Ms Sheard had previously lived in Blandford Forum, Dorset, before moving to Exeter and bought her home in Exmouth in 2006. Those who knew her described her as a friendly woman who always had a smile and a wave. After her death, colleagues from DJH joined other mourners laying flowers outside Ms Sheard’s home. One said: “She was the nicest woman ever. She was helpful and said hello no matter what. Even if you walked past her she would say hello, she was very polite.”
After Ms Sheard’s death, Cane’s father Michael Cane, said to be a former police officer, made an appeal through the media for his son to give himself up.
Note: This report was drawn from reports from the BBC and Exmouth People.