Murderer jailed for life

Christopher Foley
Christopher Foley

A YOUNG Wigan man who fatally stabbed his partner in the throat with a pair of scissors has been jailed for a life.

After just over three hours deliberations a jury today (Wednesday) unanimously convicted Christopher Foley of murdering 20-year-old Joanne Harrison at their Worsley Hall home.

Joanne Harrison

Joanne Harrison

Imposing a life sentence, with a minimum term of 16 years, Judge Mark Brown described it a tragic case especially for the couple’s baby son who has lost his mother and father.

He said that there had been a history of domestic violence during the couple’s two year relationship and only a few days before her death he had given her a “nasty black eye when you punched her in the face.”

He continued: “I am satisfied that you were an abusive, violent partner. In my judgement you treated her very badly and on a number of occasions family members and neighbours saw that she had black eyes or other injuries.

“One witness in the trial described you as being ‘vile’ towards her and there is no doubt that you had assaulted her many times previously.”

This was a brutal act committed upon Joanne in the family home where she should have been able to feel safe and secure

Judge Mark Brown

During the seven-day trial the jury at Liverpool Crown Court heard that after her death on February 1 this year an undated note she had written was found.

“It provides an insight into her feelings of sadness and despair about the state of the relationship and the way you treated her,” said Judge Brown.

The murder happened at their home in Cameron Place, Worsley Hall, following an argument about a leaking fish tank and 23-year-old Foley lost his temper and stabbed her in the throat with a pair of scissors.

“It is apparent you are an individual with serious anger management issues and serious issues in respect of relationships,” added the judge.

“I am prepared to accept it was only one blow with the scissors which were held in an open position but nonetheless severe force was used and the upper blade penetrated her neck and upper chest the whole of its length.

“This was a brutal act committed upon Joanne in the family home where she should have been able to feel safe and secure. The fact the weapon was used involving two blades is a serious aggravating factor.”

“You realised immediately the enormity of what you had down and no doubt bitterly regretted your actions. You immediately called the emergency services and assisted Joanne by trying to stem the bleeding and making sure as best you could that she was able to breathe.”

The jury of five women and seven men heard that, tragically, paramedics and hospital medics were unable to save her and she was pronounced dead later that day following catastrophic bleeding.

Judge Brown said that he accepted that Foley had not intended to kill her but she was a young woman who should have lived a long and fulfilling life and the joy of motherhood had been taken from her and she would never see her son grow up.

A moving impact statement from her father, Trevor, who attended each day along with her sister, was handed to the court and Judge Brown said in this the family said: “There is a hole in our lives that can never be filled and Joanne will be missed and loved forever.”

Foley, wearing a grey three piece suit and striped tie, sat with his eyes closed for most of the sentencing hearing and showed no emotion. He had claimed that Joanne had tripped over the baby’s ball pit and another toy while holding the scissors and her death had been a tragic accident.

The harrowing 999 call made by Foley was played to the jury in which Joanne, who was struggling to breathe, could be heard saying she was going to die and their distraught son could be heard crying.

A post mortem examination revealed she had 36 injuries, some fresh and some not so new. She had suffered two stab wounds, the upper one penetrating the apex of her right chest, grazing her lung and damaged her third rib. The lower wound had penetrated the central chest compartment though only penetrated the layer of fat.

Defence QC Ben Myers said today that Foley did not have any history of violence outside the relationship and it seemed to be a “peculiar” feature of it.