The family of a Colne classroom assistant say they are disappointed that a man has been cleared of her murder.

Daniel Lancaster, 25, was found not guilty of the murder of Anna Banks, 23, at a flat on Centaur Court, in Hawley Street, Colne, on December 22.

The court heard that the couple had been in a relationship for four months.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Anna’s sister Sharon said: “It has been devastating for all my family to lose our Anna in the way we did.

“However, she will live on in all of our hearts and minds and we will cherish the memories we have of my loving, happy, beautiful sister.

“This traumatic loss will stay with us all our lives; we can only hope time will ease our pain.

“I want to thank all at Lancashire Police and Miss Blackwell (prosecuting barrister) and her staff for trying their utmost in getting justice for our Anna.

“We can now put behind us the circumstances which led us to lose her and move forward as a family in remembering the happy life we all shared with my darling little sister Anna Lisa Banks.”

Detective Inspector Mark Rothwell, from the Force Major Investigation team, said: “While I respect the decision of the jury, naturally Anna’s family is disappointed with the decision to clear the defendant on the charge of murder.

“However, following Lancaster’s guilty plea to manslaughter, he will be sentenced to a very long time behind bars and I hope this will be of some small comfort to the family as they continue to try to come to terms with their loss.

“Our thoughts are with Anna’s family at this difficult time and we will continue to offer our support for as long as they need it.” Anna died as a result of manual strangulation.

Lancaster admitted manslaughter as part of a sex game that went wrong but denied murder.

It took jurors almost ten hours to reach a verdict after being directed that a majority decision would be accepted by the judge Lancaster will be sentenced for manslaughter next week.