Ronald Cooke jailed for partner's murder

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Ronald CookeImage source, West Midlands Police
Image caption,
Ronald Cooke was jailed for life, to serve a minimum of 24 years

A "controlling bully" has been jailed for life for murdering his partner.

Ronald Cooke, of Granville Road, Cradley Heath, in the West Midlands, attacked his partner Tina Billingham at their home on February 6, before driving her to a doctor's surgery claiming she had "stabbed herself".

Ms Billingham, a mother of two, died in hospital later that day.

Cooke, 55, was convicted of murder at Wolverhampton Crown Court and ordered to serve a minimum of 24 years.

Image source, West Midlands Police
Image caption,
Tina Billingham was in a relationship with Cooke for 20 years

West Midlands Police described Cooke's 20-year relationship with 54-year-old Ms Billingham as "abusive and controlling".

He had previous convictions for assault and actual bodily harm against two former partners, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

The court heard neighbours had witnessed Cooke shouting at his partner before ordering her to get into his van. The argument continued in his vehicle where he stabbed Ms Billingham twice, piercing her heart.

He then drove to the surgery. Staff there found her bleeding heavily from her injuries.

Cooke told them Ms Billingham had stabbed herself in his van with an ornamental sword stick - a weapon with a blade screwed into the scabbard - following an argument, police said.

A post-mortem examination confirmed Ms Billingham had died as a result of stab wounds to the chest and stomach area.

Image caption,
Cooke drove to the surgery and dragged a heavily-bleeding Ms Billingham from his van

Det Insp Harry Harrison said: "Cooke was clearly a bully and was the root cause of an awful lot of misery in Tina's life.

"Arrogant to the end, he has shown no remorse.

"Men with his character traits have no place in a civilised society. He has now rightly been brought to justice."

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