A CONVICTED rapist is today facing life behind bars after admitting the double murder of two women in Southampton.

Susan Hale and her carer, Sarah Merritt, were knifed to death after being sexually assaulted by David Tiley.

Winchester Crown Court heard today how Tiley confessed to the horrific murders in the final hours of several days of police interviews.

Tiley had knifed his girlfriend Mrs Hale, 49, to death in her flat in Townhill Park in Southampton in March.

Tiley, 47, had let her into their ground floor flat in Meggeson Avenue where he had been living with Mrs Hale and used bed-sheets to tie her up before stealing her cash card and fleeing to use a nearby machine to withdraw money.

He then returned to the scene where he murdered Mrs Merritt, knifing her twice in the neck.

Following the gruesome killing he fled the property and made his way by train to Weymouth.

Sentencing Tiley to life imprisonment, the judge, Mr Justice Irwin, said: "On each count you will go to prison for life.

"These offences are quite exceptionally serious and the only appropriate sentence should be a whole life order.

"The only proper punishment for you is that you must never be released.

"The brutality and evil defies adequate description. The pain and grief of the victims' families left in the wake of the deaths is profound.

"We have heard it expressed poignantly and with dignity today. One's heart goes out to them. Nothing can repair the damage done to them."

In their hunt for the killer, detectives managed to track Tiley's movements using CCTV images that spotted him on the South West Train.

The family of both women were this morning in court and some had received special dispensation from the judge to sit in the well of the court room to finally lay eyes on the man who had taken their loved ones.

More than 50 officers from across the county were involved in the investigation to find Tiley, who was jailed for six years for a knife point rape in March 1995.

Prosecutor Nick Hawkins said Tiley met Mrs Hale in the summer of 2006 and formed a relationship with her, moving into her flat.

He said Tiley was a registered sex offender and should have told police about his change of address but he failed to do so and was prosecuted.

In August 2006, Tiley was sentenced to ten months in prison for failing to tell the police about the change and was released on January 17 this year.

Mr Hawkins said Tiley moved back into Mrs Hale's flat and did register his address. Mrs Hale knew about Tiley's background because police told her.

He said the couple became engaged and Tiley registered as her official carer.

On the day of her death Mr Hawkins said an "argument developed" in which Mrs Hale taunted him about something in his past.

He hit her over the head with a hammer behind her ears and then bound her ankles and bound her ankles and wrists with cord.