Katy Sprague murder: Zac Jackson jailed for 'senseless' killing

Image source, Cambridgeshire Police
Image caption,
Zac Jackson had tried to strangle a health worker on the same day he murdered a neighbour

A man who "senselessly" murdered a fellow resident of a supported living complex by repeatedly strangling her in anger has been jailed for life.

Zac Jackson, 38, killed Katy Sprague, 51, in the common room of the flats on Coleridge Road in Cambridge in 2019.

A judge said Ms Sprague was subjected to a "prolonged ordeal, as she cried for help, struggled with [Jackson] and attempted to fend [him] off".

At Cambridge Crown Court, Jackson was jailed for a minimum term of 15 years.

Jackson, who had admitted manslaughter on the day his trial began, was convicted of murder by a jury on Wednesday.

Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
Katy Sprague was described by her family as "kind, considerate, loving and loyal"

The trial heard Ms Sprague and Jackson lived at Denham Place, which provides accommodation for people with mental health issues judged to require some level of support.

Ms Sprague suffered from acute anxiety, while Jackson had anti-social and emotionally unstable personality disorder, the court was told.

Mr Justice Bryan said on the morning of the murder in November, Jackson attempted to strangle a community psychiatric nurse, later saying he was "going to kill her, kill the manager and kill Katy".

The judge accepted this was a "cry for help" as he wanted to be sectioned.

The trial heard the nurse then contacted a crisis team, but nobody was available to assess Jackson until the following day.

Image caption,
Katy Sprague was declared dead at the scene in Coleridge Road, Cambridge, on 27 November 2019

Later that day, Mr Justice Bryan said Jackson strangled Ms Sprague at least twice, probably three times, with interruptions as he threatened another resident who had entered the common room.

Jackson later told police it was a "heated argument we had, I didn't mean to kill her", the court heard.

His defence argued that he was "obviously mentally unwell" on the day, and two psychiatrists had diagnosed him with complex post-traumatic stress disorder.

But Mr Justice Bryan said: "I'm sure you killed Katy because she angered you, not because of any complex post-traumatic stress disorder."

The judge said "no-one will ever know" what the argument had been about.

Image caption,
Prosecutors said it was a "sustained" attack on Ms Sprague

Mr Justice Bryan said Ms Sprague's family had been "left traumatised by her senseless murder" and their victim impact statement had made for "painful reading".

It called Ms Sprague "kind, considerate, loving and loyal", and that she "went out of her way to help others".

"Katy should not have died in the way she did and we believe her death could have been prevented," the statement said, adding they had previously raised concerns.

Mr Justice Bryan said the community psychiatric nurse "did all that she reasonably could that day to have you assessed".

He added: "Whether there are wider lessons to be learned... is for others to consider."

Cambridgeshire County Council has confirmed a local safeguarding adult review was under way, and that it would be "inappropriate to comment until this is complete".

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, which runs mental health services, said: "We would like to offer our sincere condolences to Katy's family and friends."

He added they were "supporting the review... to make sure that any lessons from this incident are acted on".

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