Man jailed for 26 years for ‘cold-blooded execution’ of ex-partner’s girlfriend
Judge says Andrew Burke committed “act of unspeakable savagery” a day after conviction for harassing ex-partner
A man who carried out the “cold-blooded execution” of a travel agent after she began a relationship with his ex-girlfriend has been jailed for a minimum of 26 years.
Andrew Burke, 31, slit the throat of Cassie Hayes in front of horrified staff and shoppers at a Tui branch in Southport where she worked.
He committed the “act of unspeakable savagery” a day after he had been convicted of harassing his ex-partner Laura Williams, 29.
Burke had also been harrassing Ms Hayes, 28, for months after she started dating his ex-partner, blaming her for the end of his relationship.
Police were aware of his campaign against Ms Hayes and in May 2017 he was issued with a police information notice warning him over any future contact.
But Burke ignored the warning and went to the Tui branch on a busy Saturday afternoon to attack Ms Hayes, who had been serving a family.
Stunned shoppers looked on as emergency services, including two air
ambulances, rushed to the scene in a bid to save Ms Hayes but she died later in hospital.
Cause of death was shock and haemorrhaging as a result of the wound.
Burke admitted murder when he appeared at Liverpool Crown Court on Monday for a plea hearing.
Sentencing him, Judge David Aubrey said: “You perpetrated a cold-blooded execution in public for the purpose of revenge and in my judgment the killing was an act of unspeakable savagery.
“This was a cowardly act of revenge designed to kill and did kill a totally innocent person in broad daylight in front of, and witnessed by, so many.”
Burke, of Vincent Street, St Helens, also pleaded guilty to having an offensive weapon, namely a knife, in a public place.
Members of Ms Hayes’ family were in the packed courtroom to hear him admit his crime.
Opening the case, Gordon Cole QC, prosecuting, said the split between Burke and Ms Williams had caused problems.
Burke was charged with harassing Ms Williams on November 13 last year and was convicted of the offence on January 12, when he appeared at Sefton Magistrates’ Court. He was bailed ahead of sentencing.
Burke was also charged with making malicious communications in January 2017 when his mother, Lousie McConnell, made a statement to police about remarks he had made to her threatening to kill himself or Ms Hayes because he held her responsible for the end of his relationship.
Burke pleaded guilty to that offence and received a fine and an unpaid work requirement.
Mr Cole said Ms Hayes was attending to a family at the front desk when Burke entered with his hood up.
He told a cashier: “I just want to apologise for what I am about to do.”
Burke was then seen to lower his hood before he walked behind Ms Hayes and placed his arms behind her head.
The prosecutor said: “He lifted her head, exposing her neck with his left arm and then ran his right hand across her throat.
“It was immediately apparent that there was blood flowing and that Cassie Hayes had had her throat cut.”
Burke remained at the back of the shop and made apologies, saying nobody deserved to see what had happened.
But he was also heard saying remarks to the effect that Ms Hayes “had it coming for her what she had done to his family”, Mr Cole said.
The prosecutor added: “After this ruthless and chilling murder the defendant seemed to remain calm. He showed no emotion and remained seated whilst everybody else was reacting in one way or another to what had happened.”
Police arrived at the scene and found Burke lying on the floor in the centre of the shop with his head towards the door.
The defendant told a firearms officer: “I’m no threat to you, officer. I’ve got nothing else on me. The knife’s on the table.
“Can you tell the family that was in here I’m sorry, I thought I’d waited till there were no kids in there.
“I was in court yesterday and I lost. It was either kill me or kill her, so I killed her.
“The only reason I wasn’t still cutting her when you turned up was cos you’d shoot me and I didn’t want to put you through that.”
When the defendant was arrested on suspicion of murder and cautioned, he replied: “Has she died?”