A life snuffed out by junkie who flew into a jealous rage
She was a pretty young mother with a bright future ahead of her. And she should have celebrated her 23rd birthday last week.
But Katie Hughes’ life was cruelly cut short when her cocaine and alcohol addicted boyfriend flew into a fit of jealous rage.
The 21-year-old from Bangor was stabbed nine times at a house party in her home town last April.
Her killer was Mark Wallace, a violent thug from Elmwood Drive also in Bangor, who told friends he had been planning to “butcher” her for weeks.
Wallace, who was once ordered out of Northern Ireland because of drug debts to paramilitaries, had become outraged after hearing Katie speak about a previous relationship during the party.
The evidence suggests she had made “light-hearted remarks” during the course of the evening to the effect of “who needed boyfriends”.
Incensed and feeling “belittled”, Wallace took a knife from the kitchen, hid it in the waistband of his trousers, walked into the living room and without warning launched the frenzied attack on an unsuspecting Katie — wounding her nine times in the neck and chest.
At first stunned guests thought the couple were “messing about” but when the horrific reality dawned, Wallace swung the knife at those who tried to confront him.
He then fled the party leaving Katie, who had a four-year-old daughter, lying gravely ill on the sofa with the rest of the guests frantically battling to save her.
A post-mortem examination found it was the fourth stab wound to her top right shoulder that punctured the right external jugular vein, and stab wound number six that penetrated the chest cage — and did the most damage.
And in his sentencing remarks, Mr Justice Hart concluded: “The number and nature of the stab wounds he inflicted means that there can be no doubt whatever, as his plea of guilty accepts, that it was his intention to kill her.”
After leaving the scene Wallace forced a friend to take him to another house in Newtownards where he made comments about stabbing his own mother who he believed had “touted on him”.
He also asked for help to leave the country.
Fortunately it wasn’t long before the authorities eventually caught up with him.
Wallace claimed he had taken the kitchen knife only to scare his girlfriend but had snapped and lashed out at her after she “said something”.
During the court hearings it emerged Wallace had endured a traumatic childhood and was exposed to domestic violence.
He started drinking in his early teens and was misusing cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines and prescription drugs by the age of 16.
A consultant psychiatrist said Wallace presented “paranoid personality traits”, had a tendency to feel slighted or humiliated by others, could hold a grudge for a long period and was self-referential, readily thinking that people were looking at him or talking about him.
He also had previous convictions for possession of class B and C drugs in 2002 for which he served a year in detention, and days before he unleashed his brutal attack on Katie Hughes he had struck another man on the head with a bottle, inflicting a wound that required four staples.
After his return to Northern Ireland in 2008, Wallace substituted his addiction to drugs with an addiction to alcohol. And when he savagely murdered his young girlfriend he was three times the drink-drive limit.
A defence lawyer claimed Wallace was ashamed of what he had done and had also contemplated suicide in prison.
For tragic Katie Hughes however, there was no choice.
Wallace stole her life.