A former football coach with a history of violence against women has been jailed for life after being found guilty of murdering his girlfriend, a young model who named her killer as she lay dying.
Ricardo Morrison, 22, stabbed Amy Leigh Barnes, 19, with a kitchen knife following an argument, before fleeing the home they shared in Bolton, Greater Manchester. Bleeding heavily, she called 999 and told the operator: "I'm dying. He's stabbed me to death." Asked who had attacked her, she replied: "My boyfriend... I'm going... I can't see."
Yesterday, after an 11-day trial at Manchester Crown Court, Morrison was convicted of murder and told he must serve a minimum of 24 years in prison. His mother, Melda Wilks, a police constable of 29 years, was found not guilty of assisting an offender. She allowed him to wash his bloodstained clothes in her washing machine, but told the jury she believed her son when he said he did not harm Miss Barnes.
Following his conviction, the judge lifted a court order banning publication of the fact that Morrison, who worked as a children's football coach and was offered a professional football contract by Birmingham City FC when he was 17, has previous convictions for attacking an ex-girlfriend.
It was also revealed that, at the time of Miss Barnes's murder, Morrison was on bail having been charged for assaulting five women in a restaurant in London. Due to his murder conviction those allegations will now not be pursued.
Sentencing Morrison yesterday, Mr Justice MacDuff told him: "You are an evil man with nothing to commend you. You have a history of abusing and assaulting women. You are controlling and you do not like to be crossed. You do not take no for an answer. You had controlled and abused Amy Leigh Barnes over many months. Yours was a sustained campaign of prolonged physical, emotional and psychological abuse."
During the trial, Morrison claimed he was in love with Miss Barnes and that the pair had planned to get engaged and have a child. But the jury heard that during their nine-month relationship he regularly beat her and held knives to her throat, strangled her and punched her in the face. He denied this, claiming he had never attacked her but that she had been violent towards him.
The court was told that on the day of the murder, 8 November last year, Morrison had attacked Miss Barnes, before leaving the house and locking her inside. She later sent him a text message calling him a "woman beater" and told him the relationship was over. He replied: "Evil bitch". Miss Barnes then phoned her mother, Karyn Killiner. Mrs Killiner said her daughter was crying and said: "I want to come home... he's said some awful things to me."
Miss Barnes's father Andrew went to the house to collect his daughter. When he arrived, he found her dying in the hallway. His voice can be heard in the 999 call, shouting: "Amy, Amy, Amy. What's happened, Amy? Are you all right? Amy, what have you done?"
Following the verdict, Mr Barnes said: "Walking through the door was the hardest day of my life. No one should have to see that. Not their little girl."
Mrs Killiner raced to the hospital to be with her daughter after the attack. She had been stabbed several times in the body and her face had been badly slashed. Mrs Killiner said: "Her injuries were horrific and what he had done to Amy's beautiful face – I knew that was to completely disfigure her. It was such a personal attack to Amy."
Mrs Killiner said her daughter's last words were: "I want to die" and added: "She could not have lived with those injuries." About her killer, she said: "He is an absolute monster and no language can describe him."