UK & World News
Michael Cope Given Life For Linzi Ashton Murder
Michael Cope has been jailed for life for murdering his ex-girlfriend in a "prolonged, extremely violent and determined attack".
The 28-year-old admitted murdering barmaid Linzi Ashton, 25, who was found dead at her home in Winton, Salford, on June 29 last year.
Cope, who pleaded guilty to murder at the start of his trial on Monday, will have to serve a minimum of 27 years in prison before being considered for parole. He also admitted three counts of assault.
Members of Miss Ashton's family cheered as the sentence was delivered at Manchester Crown Court. One said: "It's still not enough."
Cope, who had gone on the run for more than a month after the killing, smiled and turned towards the public gallery. Male relatives of Miss Ashton ran towards him, punched the reinforced dock and shouted "rot in hell".
A post-mortem examination found Miss Ashton died as a result of pressure to the neck and multiple injuries during the hour-long attack.
She had suffered 108 injuries to her head and body caused by a combination of punches and kicks and a ligature around her neck. Miss Ashton, who had two daughters, Destiny, seven, and Daisy, two, was discovered dead in her bed by members of her family.
Delivering his sentence, Mr Justice Parker told Cope he had "set out in a most deliberate and calculating manner to kill your victim".
He added: "This was a savage attack on a defenceless woman in her own home."
Cope had begun an "acrimonious" relationship with Miss Ashton in November 2012 and the court heard he subjected her to "deliberate, extensive and sustained domestic abuse".
Her family and friends wept as Kate Blackwell QC, prosecuting, described a series of attacks, including two occasions in March 2013 when Cope strangled Miss Ashton. Cope admitted three counts of assault on Miss Ashton.
One text message she sent to Cope read: "I'm scared every time you drink ? You could have actually killed me ... You strangled me until I passed out."
The court heard that in April the abuse suffered by Miss Ashton was reported to police by a friend. Her ex-boyfriend, Liam Grime, had warned her "you are scared of him Linzi and he's going to kill you".
Ms Blackwell told the court the abuse continued. During an attack in the early hours of May 18 Cope had told Miss Ashton: "I'm going to kill you. I'd gladly do time for you. I like it in prison."
Two days later Miss Ashton was interviewed by police and told officers Cope had raped and attacked her. The rape allegation, which he denied, will lie on file.
Ms Blackwell told the court the interview was "chilling given the fears she had of being murdered in a revenge attack". Miss Ashton told officers: "I'm scared of him coming to get me. Until he is in prison I'm not going to be OK."
Miss Ashton's mother Philomena McMahon said her death had left their lives "dark and empty" and added: "Heartbroken doesn't go anywhere near describing how it feels. It is really difficult knowing she won't be there for her daughters."
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