THE family of a murdered mother-of-three have been praised for their “dignity” during the trial of her killer.

Detective Inspector Andy Chalmers was in charge of the investigation which today saw Houssam Djemaa jailed for 15 years for murdering Jacqueline Barratt, 34, in their Cricklewood flat.

He said: “The family’s dignity throughout this trial has been immense. They have had to listen to some awful things and have done so with huge dignity.

“It was a case which on the face of it was straightforward. When we arrived he had already been arrested and already made admissions.

“The difficulty was we never really knew what went on until he gave his evidence. We can build up a picture using forensics and trying to decipher the environment, but we never knew for certain exactly how it took place.

“It was also the first the family had heard of it and they had no time to prepare and they found it very shocking. We’re [pleased for them because it’s the right result. It gives them some closure.”

Djemaa, 23 and a student at the College of North West London, had denied murder but admitting killing Jacqueline with a fire extinguisher and then kneeling on her kneck.

He told the Old Bailey trial he had lost his temper after an argument, during which he said Jacqueline abused his religion.

After the killing he took items from the flat in Whitefields Avenue and sold them to a “fence” as he planned his escape, before having a change of heart and returning to report what had happened.

DI Chalmers said: “He acted in a very cold, calculated way. He knew where to go in the middle of the night to sell these goods and has refused to name someone he had a criminal association with.

“ There was nothing in his history which could have predicted this. He had convictions for burglaries and theft, but nothing like this.

“What he claimed when he gave his evidence was she was still alive and breathing when he left and when he took the goods. I think the family can’t understand why he didn’t call for help.”