A domestic abuser who strangled a young woman nearly 50 years ago has been jailed for 10 years and 6 months.

John Apelgren, 80, hit sex worker Eileen Cotter in the face and throttled her before throwing her body out of his car, the Old Bailey heard.

Ms Cotter’s partly naked body was found on June 1 1974 outside garages known to be a sex worker haunt.

The 22-year-old’s death in Islington, north London, came two years after Apelgren sexually assaulted an 18-year-old guest at his own wedding to second wife Ann Apelgren in October 1972.

Prosecutor Alexandra Healy KC had told jurors the incident only came to light years later when police interviewed Ann Apelgren as part of the re-investigation into Ms Cotter’s death.

That case had been reopened in 2012, when DNA was extracted from samples from Ms Cotter’s body and compared with a then-prime suspect, who was ruled out.

News Shopper: Eileen Cotter was found dead in Highbury in 1974 Eileen Cotter was found dead in Highbury in 1974 (Image: Met Police)

The trail went cold for seven more years until 2019, when former minicab driver Apelgren came to the attention of police for attacking his third wife.

He accepted a caution for the assault and his DNA was flagged as a match to the historical killing, which happened just six weeks after the birth of his first child with his ex-wife Ann.

She went on to reveal to investigators he had mistreated her too – and once applied force to her neck with both of his hands.

Apelgren, from Sydenham, south London, declined to give evidence in his trial.

He was acquitted of murder but found guilty of manslaughter and indecent assault.

On Friday, Mrs Justice May jailed him at the Old Bailey for 10 years for the killing and a further six months for the earlier assault to run consecutively.

She told him that “putting your hands around a young woman’s neck and squeezing hard” carried a high risk of death which ought to have been obvious.

The judge said Ms Cotter “must have been terrified”.

Ms Cotter’s half-brother Patrick Cotter, who was five years old at the time of her death, said the impact of her death was “indescribable”.

He said in a statement: “No-one ever spoke to me about my sister’s death. I have no memory of her funeral. I have no idea where she was laid to rest.”

News Shopper: John Apelgren, of Byden Close, was jailed for 10 yearsJohn Apelgren, of Byden Close, was jailed for 10 years (Image: Met Police)

Her violent death led to the breakdown of his parents’ relationship and he was taken into care.

Mr Cotter said: “As a result of the traumatic event during my childhood I shut down emotionally. It’s made it difficult for me to form close relationships.

“I only have very faint memories of my sister but I believe she cared for me.”

He concluded: “To sum it up in simple terms, the impact of Eileen’s killing had on my life: I was not only deprived of a sister I had little time to get to know, the knock-on effect also meant I lost my mother to suicide and my father to mental illness and alcoholism, all brought about because John Apelgren took Eileen’s life.

“I would like to see justice for Eileen whose life was cruelly cut short 49 years ago.”

In a statement from the 1970s, the victim’s late father – also called Patrick – detailed his daughter’s short life marred by family tragedies.

News Shopper: Eileen was just 22 when she was killedEileen was just 22 when she was killed (Image: Met Police)

Ms Cotter was born three years after Irish labourer Mr Cotter moved to England in 1949.

She was aged just 15 when she found the body of her mother after she committed suicide.

She left school at 16 and worked at a holiday camp in Barry Island in Wales and at a care home in Ireland.

The court was told Ms Cotter had given birth to a son around 1970 but the child died in infancy and she left the family home in Battersea months before her death.

In mitigation, Justin Rouse KC listed Apelgren’s health problems saying the defendant would be affected “significantly” by serving his sentence.