Saturday, April 24, 2010

"Divorce party" murderer of ex-wife sentenced to life without parole for at least 10 years

Andy Passant and Naomi Corrigan, Evening Gazette

Brian Jones was sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison for butchering 34-year-old mum-of-two Katrina Jones at the former marital home in Church Close, Marske. Katrina was knifed 12 times after arguing with her ex-husband on November 27 last year. She had been decking out the house with banners and balloons to celebrate the end of their 10-year marriage.

Yesterday there were dramatic scenes at Teesside Crown Court as Jones was found guilty of murdering Katrina at the end of a two-week trial. Jones, 63, of Thrushwood Crescent, Marske, collapsed in the dock, at which point the judge called an adjournment while the defendant received attention.

The former doorman and bodybuilder, had denied murder, raising the defences of provocation and diminished responsibility.But after deliberating for more than seven hours the jury of six men and six women unanimously found him guilty of murder.

The trial judge, the Recorder of Middlesbrough Judge Peter Fox QC, told Jones: “The jury has found you guilty of murder. I am bound therefore to pass, as I now do, a sentence of life imprisonment.” There were gasps from the public gallery and members of Jones’ family wept.

Struggling to be heard above the sound of crying, the judge said he was satisfied Jones had gone to get the knife from a neighbour’s house before returning and stabbing Katrina.

“Your intention, I am clear, was to kill her,” he said. The judge said he accepted Jones had been provoked, but not to the degree needed for a legal defence. He also took into account his age, his physical health and the fact that he had no previous convictions for violence.

But he told Jones, who will be 64 later this year, he would have to serve a minimum of 10 years before being considered for parole. A tearful Jones tried unsuccessfully to address the judge before being led from the dock. Family members shouted out that they loved him.

Members of Katrina’s family, who remained dignified and calm during and after the trial, had been in court to hear the verdict. Afterwards Katrina’s mum Jean Evans paid an emotional tribute to her daughter outside court. In a statement, Mrs Evans said Katrina “was my baby and I miss her with all my heart”.

As the family waited nearby while Detective Sergeant Colin Helyer, relatives of Jones came out of the court and several hurled abuse. Gestures were made and one shouted: “He’ll be out in six and a half.”

The court heard how the couple had been married for 10 years.
In February 2009, Jones found out his wife was seeing someone else when he discovered a Valentine’s card.
Katrina filed for divorce although Jones was desperate to save their marriage. Jones said they still regularly had sex until about July last year and left his head “screwed up”.

He ended up moving to a flat in Thrushwood Crescent, Marske. But he spent much of the time staying with his former neighbour next door to Katrina. Police were called a number of times by Katrina, who was keeping a diary of the harassment she was suffering at the hands of Jones. The trial had heard how he had gone round to confront Katrina as she prepared to hold a divorce party.

He snapped after seeing the house had been decorated with banners, balloons and streamers. One poster read: “Katrina’s divorce party. Free at last.” There was also a photo of Jones with the message “Pin the tail on the ex”, the jury heard. Jones argued with Katrina and then went next door to get a knife before returning and repeatedly stabbing her.

He then dialled 999 and pleaded for help to save his former wife’s life. Jones said he was “devastated” when he became aware of the divorce party. He said: “I couldn’t believe she would do that, I couldn’t believe she would hurt me that much.” Jones said he remembered arguing with Katrina but couldn’t remember attacking her.

THE heartbroken mum of Katrina Jones told how she will never get over losing her youngest daughter.

Jean Evans, along with other members of Katrina’s family, remained dignified and calm throughout the trial, despite hearing horrific evidence of the attack and previous incidents of harassment suffered at the hand of Jones.

In a touching statement given after the case, Mrs Evans said: “Katrina was the youngest of my four children. She was my baby and I miss her with all my heart. “I miss being able to cuddle and hold her and I miss being able to tell her how much I love her and how proud she made me feel every day. In hindsight I wish that I had told her every day that I loved her, at least it would have made up for all the times that I will not be able to do that now. My life has changed for ever and it will never be the same again. I loved my daughter very much and still do.”

Mrs Evans, a widow who lives in Middlesbrough, described her daughter as “funny, caring and lovely to be around”. And she added that the whole family are struggling to come to terms with what happened to Katrina. “Mark, Phillip and Susan who are Katrina’s brothers and sister are totally heartbroken at Katrina’s death and this will affect them and their families for the rest of their lives,” she said.

“With regards to Jordan (Katrina’s son) his whole life has been turned upside down and thrown into chaos. Everything that he trusted and believed in has been taken away from him.” She asked that the family’s privacy be respected.

During the case, Katrina’s family heard that police were called to the house on several occasions and she was keeping a diary of his harassment.

Detective Sergeant Colin Helyer, who led the case, said: “This is one of the most extreme cases of domestic violence that I have ever dealt with and the victim endured months and months of abuse which has ultimately led to her death. “Throughout the court case, Katrina’s family have had to listen to a lot of painful and upsetting evidence given by various witnesses. They have remained dignified throughout this time. This is a just result for a horrific crime. I only hope that it brings some closure for the family and they can now move on with their lives.”

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