THE man convicted of murdering Jackie Harrison was always the police’s only suspect in the case.
But he said the 51-year-old’s drifter lifestyle had made the investigation difficult.
He said: “His lifestyle, being transient, homeless and alcoholic, meant he could give an explanation why he had suddenly disappeared around the time of her death.”
Concerns for the welfare of Miss Harrison, 48, were raised during the evening of Thursday, April 12.
Police discovered her body slumped on the bed.
She had suffered a “very violent death in a brutal and vicious attack”.
Det Insp Smith described the speed of Cummins’s arrest as a “relief”. He was found in a tent on the side of a road in the Dorchester area.
He was traced after police received information he had been arrested twice in Tonbridge, Kent.
He made no comment on his arrest and showed no effort to co-operate with the investigation.
Det Insp Smith said Cummins had to be interviewed in his cell and a weight of evidence against him was found in Miss Harrison’s flat.
His fingerprints were found on various items, including the toilet handle, a bowl in the microwave, tap, plates and glasses.
Tests confirmed DNA taken from grip marks on Miss Harrison’s left arm were those of Cummins.
The pair were last seen together on CCTV footage on Saturday, March 17 – the last sighting of Miss Harrison – and between March 20 and 27, Cummins was the only person using the key fob to access her flat.
A peculiarity with the front door’s Yale-style lock meant it could only be locked from the outside with the keys.
He added: “The killer murdered her and locked the door so no one else had access.”
It is believed Miss Harrison’s lifestyle may have led her into trouble.
Det Insp Smith said: “When she was sober she was well liked and had a heart of gold. But she was a different person after she had a drink.”
Jackie Harrison’s family said they were delighted with the verdict.
In a statement, they said: “We hope we can now have some form of closure to these tragic events and begin to rebuild our shattered lives.”
The judge also praised the meticulous investigation and the hours spent sifting through the evidence.