THE partner of a man convicted of murdering his friend, Stevenage man Mark Butler, has been jailed for sending police “on a wild goose chase” in the hours after the killing.

Zoe McGonnell, 34, was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment at Luton Crown Court on Tuesday, the day after her partner Dwayne Parchment was jailed for life for Mr Butler’s murder.

Parchment had stabbed Mr Butler to death after drinking and smoking crack cocaine at his home in Bowcock Walk, Stevenage. McGonnell came home to find the victim dying, and her partner fleeing from the house.

But prosecutor Isabel Delamere said that McGonnell had told police a series of lies for a day and a half after Mr Butler died from the stab wound.

Miss Delamere told the court that McGonnell had invented someone by the name of Alex as being at the house in the hours before Mr Butler’s death, and falsely said that Parchment was missing when she got home to find the horrific scene.

She was then arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the murder.

Miss Delamere said: “After legal advice, she made two statements in which she admitted the whole thing about Alex was a complete fantasy.

“She said she did not want to waste police any more valuable time but that she had panicked at the time and was scared for the father of her child.”

McGonnell, of Gonville Crescent, Stevenage, had pleaded guilty to doing acts tending to pervert the course of justice in November.

Judge Richard Foster told her: “Knowing as you did that Mark Butler was either dead or dying you sent the police on a wild goose chase and made up this fictitious person Alex.

“You carried on with that lie and mislead police for a day and a half. It caused a massive amount of wasted time for the police. Dwayne Parchment could have been arrested promptly if you had given the correct information.

“The time came when you realised the error of your ways and came clean, but these are serious matters.

“It might have been a knee jerk reaction to protect your partner, but I am afraid to say I see no alternative but to impose an immediate custodial sentence.”

Andrew Corcut, defending said: “She came home to an appalling and awful situation and was shocked by the fact her partner was responsible.

“She made sure the emergency services were called and did her best to administer first aid.

“What she said to police was an instinctive reaction to protect the father of her child. She was extremely frightened but accepts that what she did was entirely wrong.”