dean murder
James D'Arcy (L) was convicted of killing hairdresser Hayley Dean (R), who was found in the bed of her home in Bournemouth, Dorset. Dorset Police

A man who bludgeoned his girlfriend with a lump hammer before sleeping next to her dead body has been found guilty of murder.

James D'Arcy was convicted at Winchester Crown Court on Thursday 2 March of killing hairdresser Hayley Dean in her home in Bournemouth, Dorset, on 16 September 2016.

The 50-year-old will be sentenced on Friday (3 March) after a trial in which D'Arcy had admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

D'Arcy claimed during the trial that he could not remember the attack as he was heavily under the influence of alcohol.

The jury heard that the 38-year-old victim died as a result of a severe blunt force impact and that she had also sustained fractures to her skull and severe swelling to the brain.

It was also revealed that D'Arcy had completed a number of everyday tasks, such as buying food from McDonalds and topping up his mobile phone before he told a friend about the killing of Dean.

He told Robert Wilson according to the Daily Mail: "I need to talk to you seriously, I have done something bad. I have killed my missus.

"I wrapped a duvet over her head before I hit her with a sledgehammer. She is dead, I have slept with her all night."

He added: "I definitely done it, there's blood all up the wall."

The court heard that Dean was found by police with her head under the pillow, a cigarette still in her lips and a lighter in her hand when she was found.

In a harrowing admission, D'Arcy told officers at a police station: "I killed my girlfriend, I smashed her head in."

The victim had been living with the defendant for around three months and neighbours said that the relationship was "turbulent".

Neighbours believed that there was an uptick in loud music and arguments between the pair in the weeks leading to her death.

On the night of the murder, someone was heard shouting "get out of my flat" before a series of screams and thuds. Dean's family said in a statement following her death: "Hayley was a very bubbly and funny girl who was adored by everyone she met.

"She had lots of friends and enjoyed spending time with them. She always had a smile on her face and was full of life. She is going to be very sadly missed."