Leeds & West Yorkshire

Michelle Spencer jailed for murdering partner as they kissed

Michelle Spencer Image copyright West Yorkshire Police
Image caption Michelle Spencer pleaded guilty to murdering her partner David Butterfield

A mother of two who stabbed her partner to death in "a flash of temper" as they kissed and cuddled has been jailed for at least 13 years.

Michelle Spencer, 48, drove a four inch (11cm) kitchen knife into David Butterfield, 43, at their home in Gomersal, West Yorkshire in January.

She initially claimed not to know the attacker's identity but later accepted responsibility for the killing.

Spencer, who admitted murder, was sentenced to life at Leeds Crown Court.

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Image copyright West Yorkshire Police
Image caption David Butterfield was fatally stabbed in the chest by his partner of 16 months, Michelle Spencer

Mr Justice Michael Soole said the stabbing had taken place in "a flash of temper with fatal consequences".

"This was an utterly unprovoked assault with a knife on your innocent partner," he said.

"In a sudden outburst of unreasoned anger you deliberately stabbed him once and with very considerable force, causing him almost immediate death."

Prosecutor Simon Waley told the court the couple had been together for about 16 months at the time of the killing.

He said witnesses claimed they had a "close relationship" but had seen injuries to Mr Butterfield on more than one occasion.

West Yorkshire Police said they had also uncovered evidence "of unreported violence which Spencer had inflicted on Mr Butterfield and her previous partners". 

Image caption Mr Butterfield was stabbed by Spencer at the home they shared in Shirley Terrace, Gomersal

On the night of the murder Mr Butterfield had come back from the shops at about 18:25 GMT to find Spencer preparing a meal.

When Mr Butterfield entered the room, Spencer had asked him whether he was going to cheer up, the court heard.

"She described him coming towards her for a kiss and a cuddle," Mr Waley told the court.

"She said that after they had come together she saw an injury to his chest and she called for an ambulance.

"During that call she said 'He's been stabbed in the chest'."

"She was asked 'By whom?' and at that stage she said she didn't know and was indicating that it had happened when he was out."

Chopping potatoes

The court heard Spencer later told police she accepted stabbing Mr Butterfield but it had been an accident.

Michelle Colborne QC defending said her client had struggled to come to terms with "the fact she could have done this to the person she loved most in the world".

"This momentary loss of temper, fatal action, is not something that would ever have been pre-meditated or even contemplated in the mind of the defendant, she said.

"It's clear that the meal had been prepared, the knife was being used to cut potatoes, and, within a matter of moments a minor disturbance resulted in this shocking act.

"She is deeply remorseful and has never tried to suggest that there was any underlying motive."

Det Insp Ben McDonald said: "As a result of diligent and meticulous inquiries by the Police investigation team, a violent woman has been brought to justice.

"Having originally lied to the police regarding the circumstances, the team have been able to uncover the facts, which has resulted in a guilty plea.  

"Mr Butterfield had suffered domestic abuse at the hands of his partner and ultimately paid the price for the fact that these incidents were never reported to the police."

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