Man 'tried to cut off ex-girlfriend's head'

A DELUSIONAL man tried to cut off his ex-girlfriend's head in an attack of 'utmost savagery' after he became convinced she was planning to murder him, a court has heard.

Jo Thewlis

A DELUSIONAL man tried to cut off his ex-girlfriend's head in an attack of 'utmost savagery' after he became convinced she was planning to murder him, a court has heard.

Benjamin Cooper, 35, hacked at Claire Marshall's throat with a pen-knife before he grabbed a larger knife in a bid to cut her from “ear to ear”.

Cooper had arranged to see the couple's daughter the couple had had together out of the blue on January 24 last year, Manchester Crown Court heard.


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In a statement to police, Miss Marshall's teenage daughter said Cooper had jumped on her mother and wrestled her to the floor and repeatedly hit her around the head before getting a pen knife out and starting to cut her throat.

By the time police and ambulance crews arrived at the house in Millom in Cumbria, the mother-of-three was face down in the living room with 21 wounds to the head and neck.

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She was declared dead by paramedics.

Cooper pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility yesterday.

Home Office pathologist Dr Brian Rogers stated: “I can think of no explanation other than the offender was trying to cut off Claire Marshall's head.”

The tragedy is the second blow for Miss Marshall's family, after her mother, Marjorie, 50, was stabbed 30 times and left to die by Miss Marshall's brother, John, in 1994.

Jim Marshall, 68, Miss Marshall's adoptive father who lives at Milden, near Ipswich, said outside court yesterday he did not want to draw parallels with the fatal stabbing of his wife.

“All the family continue to miss Claire,” he said. “We miss her smile and, of course, her three children miss their mum.

“It is an absolute tragedy. I am tremendously proud to have a daughter like Claire.

“It is very difficult to come here today and to sit through the circumstances of my daughter's death but as a father that was very important.”

Cooper will be sentenced on Wednesday.

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