A 23-YEAR-OLD man from Ballingry has been jailed for life after admitting the murder of Aberdeen mother-of-two, Jill Barclay.

At the High Court in Edinburgh today (Wednesday), labourer Rhys Bennett, pled guilty to rape and murder.

Ms Barclay, 47, a proposals engineer from Dyce, Aberdeen, was walking home from a night out on September 17 last year when Bennett followed and attacked her.

In court today, he also admitted destroying evidence in an attempt to cover up his crimes.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment and will have to serve a minimum of 24 years before he is eligible to apply for parole.

He was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register indefinitely.

David Green, lead homicide prosecutor for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, said: “Rhys Bennett raped and murdered a woman who was simply walking home after a night out through streets she knew well.

"Jill Barclay should have arrived home safely to her partner and children.

“This senseless and brutal crime has devastated a family and shocked the wider community.

“While we welcome today’s sentence as justice being served, we are acutely aware that no sentence can ever adequately reflect the suffering of Jill Barclay’s loved ones.

“Our thoughts remain with them.”

Following the hearing, the officer who led the inquiry, Detective Superintendent Andrew Patrick said: “I hope that today's sentencing brings some comfort to Jill’s family and friends who have shown immense strength throughout this investigation. Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time.

“Jill’s senseless and brutal murder had a significant impact on the local community in Dyce and throughout the North East. I would like to thank the public for their support throughout the investigation to bring Bennett to justice.

“On Saturday, 17 September, 2022, 47-year-old Jill was found dead near to Stoneywood Road and a murder investigation was launched.

"Our inquiries, including CCTV analysis, quickly led to 23-year-old Bennett being traced in Fife, where he was arrested and charged later that day.

"I believe that the evidence we were able to gather has led to Bennett’s guilty plea and, as a result, Jill’s family has been spared the further distress of a trial.

“This was a particularly harrowing investigation and it deeply affected everyone involved. I am glad that Bennett will now face the consequences of his depraved and wicked actions.

“Thankfully crimes like these are extremely rare in our communities.

"When such incidents take place we will use all resources necessary to carry out thorough, rigorous inquiries to ensure we track down those responsible to bring them to justice as swiftly as possible.”

Jill Barclay's family has released the following statement: "We would like to thank family, friends and the community for their comforting support following Jill’s tragic death as we have waited for justice.

“Jill was a deeply loved life partner, mother and daughter. She didn't deserve to die that day and especially in the unspeakable, brutal way it happened. This man has taken so much from us and changed our lives forever.

“Our family would like everyone, including the press, to respect our privacy at this difficult time so we can be left in peace to grieve.”