Jealous boyfriend jailed for life for brutal murder of Linzi Ashton
Updated 3:23pm Tuesday 21st January 2014 in News
A jealous and paranoid ex-boyfriend has been jailed for life for the "remorseless" murder of a mother-of-two.
Michael Cope, aged 28, strangled and beat Linzi Ashton, who suffered 108 separate injuries in an hour-long attack at her home, Manchester Crown Court heard.
Miss Ashton, aged 25, a barmaid and mother to Destiny and Daisy, aged seven and two, had taken her boyfriend back despite suffering prolonged domestic abuse for months.
Cope had twice tried to strangle her and she had been warned by a friend just months earlier: "He's going to end up killing you."
She had also accused him of rape and eventually reported him to police.
But he talked her into retracting the statement and the pair continued the relationship in secret from her family.
She paid with her life, suffering the "ultimate form of domestic abuse", the court heard.
During a "prolonged, extremely violent and determined attack", Kate Blackwell QC, prosecuting, said Miss Ashton had been punched, kicked, stamped on, cut with a blade, beaten with a metal pole and strangled with a cable tie.
Her battered body was found the next day, the rooms spattered with her own blood, at her house in Winton, Salford, on June 29 last year.
About 40 members of her family and friends wept as the court was told of the more than 100 injuries she suffered while being beaten and strangled to death.
Cope, from Salford, was arrested a month later. He admitted murder and three counts of assault yesterday and was today jailed for life. A single charge of rape was ordered to lie on file.
He was told he must serve a minimum of 27 years before being considered for parole.
Members of Miss Ashton's family burst into shouts of "Yes!" and cheered as the sentence was passed.
Cope smiled and turned towards the public gallery but, as he was taken down, male members of Miss Ashton's family rushed towards him, punching the reinforced glass dock and shouting: "Rot in hell!"
Miss Ashton's mother, sisters and other relatives stood shaking and in tears, one saying: "It's still not enough."
Passing sentence, Mr Justice Parker told Cope: "You set out in a most deliberate and calculating manner to kill your victim.
"This was a savage and sustained attack on a defenceless woman in her own home.
"The injuries that were caused, in part in all probability by use of a weapon, that I have recounted, were truly horrific and it is difficult to imagine the suffering, mental and physical, she must have endured as you brutally beat her to death.
"You violently took the life of a young mother, who had the care of two small children."
In a statement issued via the police after the hearing, Miss Ashton's mum, Philomena McMahon, said: "We as a family are all extremely relieved that this terrible ordeal has finally come to an end.
"I am thankful we did not have to sit in court to hear details of how our beautiful Linzi suffered.
“We can now start to get closure on the most traumatic year in all our lives.
"We all miss Linzi terribly, and nothing will ever replace her.
"She left behind two gorgeous girls who will always be reminded what a beautiful, wonderful, caring person she was.
“A big light went out in our lives the day she died.
"She wasn’t just my daughter, she was my best friend.
"I miss her every moment of every day."