A Whanganui man who served 12 years in prison for the infamous British murder of his girlfriend has been sentenced again, this time for assaulting his girlfriend.

John Mark Tanner was sentenced to two years and nine months' imprisonment by Judge Philip Crayton in Whanganui District Court for injuring with intent to injure.

In 1991, Tanner strangled Rachel McLean to death in the United Kingdom and then proceeded to hide her body under the floorboards of her flat. He callously appeared on British TV pleading for information about what happened to her before being arrested.

John Tanner served 12 years in a UK prison for murdering his girlfriend, Rachel McLean.
John Tanner served 12 years in a UK prison for murdering his girlfriend, Rachel McLean.

Over a period of six months last year, he abused his girlfriend on numerous occasions, resulting in charges of injures with intent to injure, male assaults female and threatens to kill.


But she is sticking by Tanner.

"Between 1 March 2017 and 27 September 2017 whilst there was an argument, she told you she was leaving you," Judge Crayton said.

"You, in response, told her that she was not, that you would kill her.

"She did not take the threat seriously."

In May 2017 while in a Whanganui motel, Tanner became upset with his partner and an argument broke out between them.

Tanner grabbed her while she was brushing her teeth and threw her back-first onto a bed.

"You then jumped on top of her, you put both hands across her neck, restricting her breathing," the Judge said.

"As a consequence she suffered soreness to her throat area."


In September, Tanner's offending continued when his partner showed up at his home address and again he became angry at her, grabbing her wrists while in bed.

"You held her down, straddling her. You were yelling at her about her ex-partner. You used your hands to deliver blows, slaps to her face and head a number of times," Judge Crayton explained.

"You then punched her twice around the head with a closed fist. At that point she had suffered a graze and bruising to the left side of her forehead."

At about 11.23am that same day, Tanner's partner sent him a text message saying that the relationship was over.

Five and a half hours later, he arrived at her motel unit, he was angry and another argument erupted.

"She became worried and sat against the headboard on the bed with her knees up, you walked over, you pulled her pants down and underwear off, saying you wanted sex," Judge Crayton said.

"It was said in a blunt and aggressive manner. You then demanded that she remove her SIM card from her phone and as she attempted to get away from you you grabbed her by the shirt, pulling her forward and punching her several times in the head.

"The victim fell onto the floor and attempted to shield her face from the blows. You punched the victim around the head and face several more times."

Tanner's partner told him that he was hurting her, but he did not care and while she was crying on the floor, he said "look what you made me do".

She suffered significant bruising covering her face and head.

Despite this, a victim impact statement suggested that the victim wanted the relationship to continue and identified that she wanted Tanner to get help with his anger issues.

"Mr Tanner, it is, of course, and never has been acceptable for violence within a family context. You have one significant aggravating factor, it is your previous conviction for murder," Judge Crayton said.

"Your uttering of your intent to have sex with her is a disturbing element. That you ripped her clothing off can only be seen in this context as an act of violent domination and control over your victim."

"On charge 3 injuring with intent to injure the sentence is one of two years, nine months. On charge 1 and charge 2 there will be one year's imprisonment, concurrent on each."

1991 murder

Tanner was in a relationship with McLean when she disappeared from the Oxford railway station on April 15, 1991.

Tanner, 22 at the time, even appealed through the media for information about her disappearance, but the following month admitted he had strangled her.

Her body was found hidden under the floorboards of her Oxford flat.

During his trial in Birmingham's Crown Court, Tanner said McLean had told him she wanted to end the relationship and said she had been unfaithful.

"I flew at her in a rage and proceeded to put my hands around her neck," Tanner told police.

"I think I must have lost control, because I have only a vague recollection of the time that elapsed afterwards. I am bewildered why I have done such a terrible thing to a person I love dearly."