TWO women have been found guilty of a brutal murder following a two-week trial which came to an end at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday.

Justine Wainwright, 57, had been appearing alongside her girlfriend Penny Brownlie, 45, who both denied the murder of 42-year-old Claire Louise Smith on May 18.

Miss Smith’s body, which had 74 external injuries, was found just yards away from the couple’s ground floor flat on Britannia Close, Barnsley, at about 6am on May 19.

The Crown Prosecution Service claim a gold chain belonging to Brownlie which was worth several thousand pounds was stolen and the pair believed Miss Smith, a spice user, was responsible.

Neighbours last week told the 12-person jury that they heard angry exchanges come from inside the flat, including screaming and ‘pleas to stop’, as well as questions about the chain’s whereabouts.

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CCTV later showed the pair carrying a carpet, which the CPS say was used to carry Miss Smith’s body to where she was found dead before they went back inside.

A carpet was later put in a bin, as well as a wooden object - a pick axe handle - which was later recovered and found stained with the victim’s blood.

Wainwright, who gave evidence in court, said Miss Smith had walked out of the flat after a ‘scuffle’.

“She (Miss Smith) started to hit herself with the stick in the bathroom and there was a scuffle in which she attacked us, but she gave us information about the missing chain before she left,” she added.

“Our dog urinated on the carpet and that’s why we put it in the bin.”

According to the police, a clean-up operation had taken place in the flat using white spirit, although splatters of Miss Smith’s blood was found in the bathroom, hallway and kitchen in which the CPS said was a brutal assault over a sustained period of time.

Ian Goldsack, prosecuting, said a post-mortem examination on Miss Smith found 74 external injuries including ‘vicious’ facial lacerations which were centimetres deep, while traces of white spirit were found in her stomach.

A police sniffer dog picked up traces of blood where her body was dumped and on the doorstep of Wainwright’s flat.

“Claire Louise Smith spent that afternoon with her friends who were unaware of any injuries,” he added. “Yet by 4am the following morning, she was found dead, dumped, with horrific injuries.

“There’s no disputing she had had a difficult background but in May, when she died, there’s evidence her life was on the up.

She was off alcohol, she was on a methadone programme and she had housing.

“CCTV footage shows her getting into Wainwright’s car and witnesses have told the court that they heard screams, pleas, begging the attackers to stop.

“Miss Smith had 17 facial lacerations to the depth where bone was visible sustained from repetitive, forceful blows. She had fractures to her spine, ribs, elbow and left leg. There is no way this was self-inflicted as has been claimed.

“If Miss Smith walked out of the flat, why were smears of her blood found on the doorstep? She was killed because she couldn’t give the answers they wanted about the chain.”

Cries from the public gallery were heard when the jury, who deliberated the outcome of the case for more than two hours yesterday, found both guilty of murder.

They will be sentenced today.