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Jealous ex who murdered gifted graduate is jailed for life

Court hears how Joe Atkinson, 25, couldn’t come to terms with Poppy Devey Waterhouse breaking off their three-year relationship.

Joe Atkinson was jailed for life at Leeds Crown Court (West Yorkshire Police/PA)
Joe Atkinson was jailed for life at Leeds Crown Court (West Yorkshire Police/PA)

A maths graduate who was “fuelled by jealousy” when he carried out the brutal murder of his “prodigiously gifted” former girlfriend has been jailed for life with a minimum of 15 years and 310 days.

Prosecutors explained how Joe Atkinson, 25, had failed to come to terms with Poppy Devey Waterhouse, 24, breaking off their three-year relationship in October 2018.

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Poppy Devey Waterhouse died at the flat she shared with Atkinson in Leeds (West Yorkshire Police/PA)

Leeds Crown Court heard on Friday how, in the early hours of December 14 last year, he burst into the flat they still shared on Richmond Hill, Leeds, and used a kitchen knife to inflict more than 100 separate injuries, including 49 knife injuries and 23 separate stab wounds all over her body.

Atkinson had initially denied murder, but reversed his plea.

Jason Pitter, prosecuting, said: “Poppy Devey Waterhouse was a prodigiously talented mathematician, who was described as brilliant and beautiful who, at the age of 24, had her whole life ahead of her.

“It was a life cruelly taken away from her just before Christmas last year, because this defendant realised he was not going to be a part of this future.”

I kept scraping my hands across the floor boards where she had been left screaming and dying Julie Devey, mum

The prosecutor said, to tears from the victim’s family: “He had armed himself with a kitchen knife and murdered Poppy in an unprovoked attack fuelled by jealousy.”

In a powerful victim impact statement that was read out in court, Miss Devey Waterhouse’s mother, Julie Devey, said: “As a parent, my basic duty is to make sure that I keep my children safe. I failed, and I have to carry that failure with me at all times, wherever I go, whoever I am with, whatever I am doing.”

She added: “I kept stroking my hands across the floor boards where she had been left screaming and dying.

“I just wanted to scoop her up and save her.

“I now live my life with a split-screen, on one half I can see the now, and on the other half that horrific scene.”

PA

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