Man admits Gloucester wife and stepdaughter murders

Image source, Gloucestershire Police
Image caption,
Christopher Boon, 28, initially pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder

A man has admitted murdering his wife, then turning his rage on his 11-year-old stepdaughter who had rushed from her bedroom to save her mum.

The bodies of wedding planner Laura Mortimer, 31, and Ella Dalby were found in Dexter Way, Gloucester, on 28 May.

They had been stabbed with a kitchen knife and were left lying side by side on the kitchen floor.

Christopher Boon, 28, of Dexter Way, pleaded guilty to the murders and was handed a minimum jail term of 29 years.

Initially Boon, who received a mandatory life sentence, denied murder, but during a hearing at Bristol Crown Court on Monday he finally admitted the killings.

Sentencing, Mrs Justice May told him: "You murdered your wife Laura Boon and your 11-year-old stepdaughter Ella Dalby in an act of selfish rage and cruelty.

"Your wanton savagery has blighted the lives of many forever."

Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
Ella Dalby (r) attempted to protect her mum from Boon's attack

Richard Smith QC, prosecuting, told the court: "It is clear that it was a sustained and brutal episode of violence in which Laura and Ella suffered multiple stab wounds about their faces and necks."

Mr Smith said it appeared Ella went to help her mother after hearing her downstairs with Boon.

"Having heard matters dramatically unfold in the kitchen, Ella got out of her bed and bravely came to the help of her mother," he said.

"Eleven-year-old Ella must have witnessed, in part at least, the murderous attack on her mother before Boon also attacked his stepdaughter."

The judge paid tribute to Ella, telling Boon: "She would have witnessed some part of your murderous attack on her mother and tried to stop you before you turned on her.

"What a brave girl. She and her mother were found lying together, side by side."

After the attack, Boon left the property and phoned his mother to tell her what he had done.

Mr Smith said police officers who attended 10 minutes after the phone call described the scene as "horrendous".

Image caption,
Ms Mortimer and Ella were found dead in the kitchen of their home

Police said Boon had a history of violence and in 2010 he was handed a suspended sentence for attacking a former partner and her mother.

Four years later he was accused of attacking Ms Mortimer but she did not want to press charges.

Witnesses said he also threatened his partner's best friend and was verbally abusive to Ella at times.

On 17 May this year, Ms Mortimer told a friend he "went for her" so she asked him for a divorce. He then punched a wall saying, "that was meant for your face".

The night before the attack, Laura had been out with friends and told them she had asked Boon to leave within two weeks. Friends heard that he was not happy at being told he had to go.

'Beautiful, loving and happy'

Ms Mortimer ran her own business, Sweet Beginnings, offering bespoke bridal gowns and wedding planning services.

Ella was a student at Barnwood Park Arts College, where she had a passion for dance.

In a victim impact statement, Ms Mortimer's mother Hilary Bartholomew said: "Laura was friendly to everyone and a happy person who loved to make others happy.

"She had done brilliantly in setting up her own wedding planning business [and] was a wonderful, devoted mother."

Mrs Bartholomew added: "Ella was my adored first grandchild and we were extremely close.

"She was such a beautiful, loving, happy little girl. She was also very talented at dancing. Ella adored her mother.

"My husband and I had to identify Laura and Ella, and seeing them will stay in my head for the rest of my life."

Ella's biological father, Tom Dalby, said in statement to the court that his daughter "brought great joy to my life".

He added: "I feel guilty that I was unable to protect her. I loved her with all my heart, she was my world and I can't see my future without her."

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