A SICK bully who once set a ferret on a woman as a form of torture has been jailed for a minimum of 27 years for murdering his girlfriend – whose body remains missing.

Alan Edwards was found guilty of the murder of Susan Waring – and a catalogue of vile offences against several other women – following a trial which lasted 11 weeks at Preston Crown Court.

He has now learned his fate after Mr Justice James Goss passed down a sentence of life imprisonment with a minimum term of 27 years.

This morning, Susan’s family have urged Edwards to give them closure by revealing where her body is. In a statement read to the court, brother Peter Waring said: “As a grieving family we make one final request for Alan Edwards to tell us where our beloved Susan is so we can have closure.”

During the trial, jurors were told splatters of Susan’s blood were found on a Halloween mask which detectives believe was worn by Edwards as he attacked her.

Opening the case in January, prosecutor Christopher Tehrani QC said Edwards was arrested in March 2019 and a subsequent thorough forensic examination of his address in Blackburn Road, Darwen, found blood on the walls and in the redecorated lounge.

Edwards, 48, claimed he last saw Susan Waring as she kissed him goodbye and walked out of his flat in Darwen, Lancashire, on January 30 2019.

But the prosecution said he was a “violent bully” who killed the 45-year-old and then disposed of her body.

Miss Waring’s mother reported her missing several days later but, despite extensive police inquiries, her whereabouts are unknown and there is no evidence to say she is alive, Preston Crown Court was told.

On Friday, jurors took less than 90 minutes to reach a unanimous guilty verdict of murder.

Edwards was also convicted of offences against four other women, including causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and making threats to kill.

Those women gave evidence that they too were subjected to violent and controlling behaviour from Edwards at various times dating back to the 1990s.

Edwards began a relationship with Miss Waring, who had some learning difficulties, in late 2018 and from the outset it was “turbulent and violent”, said Mr Tehrani.

A neighbour told the jury she moved out of the adjoining flat to Edwards in fear of her own safety after she had heard near constant arguing and shouting between a man and a woman since living there from November 2018.

She said she never met either of them but recalled the man would often call the woman “stupid” and “a dumb baby”.

She added: “I heard her once say ‘Let me out, I want to get out’. He said ‘You can’t leave, what are you going to do about it?'”

Another neighbour said he witnessed Edwards punch Miss Waring in the face as he walked past the defendant’s backyard a fortnight before she disappeared.

He said: “I said to to her ‘How come you are mixed up with such a f****** idiot?’ Her last words to me was ‘He always hits me’.”

The last confirmed public sighting of Miss Waring was when she was shopping with Edwards in Darwen on January 29 where her bank card was used to buy a stuffed meerkat toy.

In the days that followed, the defendant appealed via Facebook for Miss Waring to return or make contact but an examination of his mobile phone showed he was also visiting the hook-up website flirtymoms.com with “increasing regularity”.

Giving evidence, Edwards said he was “just browsing” and it was “something to pass the time, waiting for Susan”.

He said he did not know why she had disappeared and that he was still waiting for her to come back.