A mother who hammered her flatmate to death while she was sleeping then embarked upon a wild trail of deception to cover it up has been sentenced to life in prison.

Edyta Zawadzka, 28, will serve a minimum of 17 years after she was found guilty of murdering 43-year-old Bernadeta Nawracaj, also known as Julia Anders, on the night of November 16 and 17 last year.

Zawadzka repeatedly hit the victim over the head with a claw hammer in the flat in Lower Mortlake Road, Richmond and left her there for two weeks before she drove her car and spent more than £5,500 with her bank cards.

She repeatedly tried to throw friends and family off the scent and avoid a police investigation by using Ms Anders' sim card to send messages pretending to be from her saying that she was OK.

Both women worked as prostitutes from the flat, but Zawadzka moved out after she gave birth.

Her brother came over from Poland to help look after the baby and she planted the murder weapon and a set of keys in a bag in his room to try to frame him for the murder.

A statement read out in court from the victim's former husband and father of their three children said they felt the loss of their mother every day.

It read: "They are well aware of the loss of their mother from when they wake up and she is not there to when they come home.

"I see how this saddens them every day.

"She was always full of fun with them - she was playful and I was the strict one.

"I am unsure how it will affect their trust later in life.

"Edyta [the defendant] was a big part of their lives and she told them that she loved them and they thought of her as part of the family.

"To consider that a friend of their mother did this will undoubtedly affect their ability to trust people."

Richmond and Twickenham Times:
Crime scene: Zawadzka hammered the victim to death in a first floor flat in The Towers

Judge Zoe Smith at Isleworth Crown Court said: "In 2012 [the victim] had told her sister, Alicja Antoniou, that you said that you would be in their family or destroy them and that is what you have done.

"This has had a catastrophic effect on her family.

"Her children who she would see almost every day have lost the care and devotion of their mother.

"Her siblings here who have carried themselves with such dignity are devastated by their loss."

She said Zawadzka sent family and friends on a "wild goose chase" after the murder and ordered the 224 days she has already spent in prison be deducted from her sentence.

Outside the court the victim's sister Mrs Antoniou hugged members of the jury for delivering a guilty verdict.

The 37-year-old said: "We have been through so much and the trial was there to shut the door for us.

"The most important thing for us was the verdict but obviously it will not bring my sister back.

"We are hoping that she will actually stay there for life and that she will never ever be able to approach any member of our family ever again.

"We know her well and she would go after anybody. She is a constant liar and always has been."

If released, Zawadzka will remain on licence and liable to recall to prison for the rest of her life.