A woman has been jailed for life after being convicted of murdering her own mother in bed.

Keeley Barnard had denied killing 70-year-old Margaret Sims, from Clacton, but was found guilty by a jury yesterday at Chelmsford Crown Court.

The court heard Barnard, 52, had been sharing a bed at her younger sister’s home in Milton Road, Stanford-le-Hope, with her mother.

She claimed she was trying to save her mother's life by massaging her throat after she stopped breathing.

The prosecution said Barnard, of Hopkins Mead, Chelmsford, had strangled her mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, to “put her out of her misery”.

Barnard had wept in the witness box as she denied murdering her mother.

She said she had used a pillow to create a barrier between herself and Mrs Sims, as they were sharing a sofa bed.

But ten minutes later, she noticed her mother made a gasping noise and stopped breathing.

Barnard said she started massaging her mother’s throat to try clear her airways and performed CPR on her.

She told the court she was "devastated" by her mother's death.

Paramedics had arrived at the house just after midnight on August 20 last year. They spent 20 minutes trying to revive Mrs Sims.

A post-mortem examination found Mrs Sims had died of compression to the neck caused by strangulation.

Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, had told the jury Barnard strangled her mother in a fit of “rage and frustration”, before telling her sister and brother-in-law she had died suddenly.

The court heard several abrasion wounds were found around Mrs Sims’ face and neck, consistent with fingernail marks.

Barnard, of Hopkins Mead, Chelmsford, was arrested following the results of the post mortem examination but denied murdering her mother.

The court heard Mrs Sims’ health had been in decline, which had caused “considerable” anguish to her family.

Barnard was sentenced to life imprisonment and will serve a minimum of 18 years.

Speaking after the case, senior investigating officer Det Insp Stuart Truss said: “This was a very sad case, which left Margaret’s family shocked and devastated by her sudden death.

“She was a vulnerable, elderly lady who was unable to defend herself and Barnard took advantage of this when committing this terrible crime.

“This verdict ensures that justice has been served for Margaret and her family.”