A man has been jailed for a minimum of 26 years for murdering Alnwick woman Cassie Hayes in a ‘cold-blooded execution’.
The 28-year-old former Duchess’s Community High School pupil, who was ‘mammy’ to young daughter Ruby, died in hospital from a wound to her throat inflicted on Saturday, January 13, at the TUI branch in Southport town centre, where she was assistant manager.
Today, at Liverpool Crown Court, and in front of members of her family, Andrew Burke, 31, of Vincent Street, St Helens, pleaded guilty to murder and having an offensive weapon in a public place.
Gordon Cole QC, prosecuting, said the murder was a pre-meditated and planned attack carried out in a ‘totally ruthless way’.
He said: “It was essentially an execution of a young woman in her place of work.”
The court heard that the defendant was the ex-partner of Laura Williams, 29, who had been in a relationship with Ms Hayes since the break-up.
Mr Cole said the split between Ms Williams and the defendant had caused problems.
Burke was charged with harassing Ms Williams on November 13 last year and was convicted of the offence on January 12 when he appeared at Sefton Magistrates’ Court and was bailed ahead of sentencing.
He was also the subject of an allegation of harassment against Ms Hayes in May 2017 and was issued with a police information notice warning him over any future contact.
Burke was also charged with making malicious communications in January this year when his mother, Lousie McConnell, made a statement to police about remarks he had made to her over the phone when he repeatedly threatened to kill himself or Ms Hayes because he held her responsible for the end of his relationship.
Burke pleaded guilty to that offence and received a fine and an unpaid work requirement.
Today, Judge David Aubrey told Burke the killing was an act of unspeakable savagery and was a cowardly act of revenge designed to kill an innocent person.
In victim impact statements, Hayes’ family said they had been left ‘truly broken’ by the murder. Her sister, Nadine Hayes, told the court: “My whole world gone, life as I knew it before has gone. This act has torn so my lives apart.”
Cassie was buried at Alnwick Cemetery at the end of January. Mourners wore yellow – her favourite colour – and her burial was followed by a poignant celebration of her life at The Alnwick Garden.
She was described as a unique woman with special qualities and was the glue that held her family together.