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Cassie Hayes: Man jailed for murdering travel agent

April 8, 2018
Laura Williams and Cassie HayesImage copyrightFamily handout
Image caption Laura Williams said Cassie Hayes (right) was “my future wife and my forever”

A man who murdered his ex-partner’s new girlfriend by cutting her throat at her workplace has been jailed for 26 years.

Travel agent Cassie Hayes, 28, was attacked at the Tui store in Southport town centre on 13 January.

Andrew Burke, 31, of St Helens, had been convicted the day before of harassing his ex-partner Laura Williams, who was in a relationship with Ms Hayes.

The judge described Ms Hayes’s death as a “cold-blooded execution in public”.

Burke pleaded guilty to murder and having an offensive weapon, namely a knife, in a public place and was jailed at Liverpool Crown Court for a minimum of 26 years on Monday.

Sentencing him, Judge David Aubrey described the murder as “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,” he added.

Image copyrightMerseyside Police
Image caption Andrew Burke told police: “It was either kill me or kill her, so I killed her”

Prosecutor Gordon Cole QC said the murder of Ms Hayes, who was originally from Alnwick, Northumberland, was a pre-meditated and planned attack carried out in a “chilling and ruthless way”.

“It was essentially an execution of a young woman in her place of work,” he added.

The court heard Ms Hayes was attending to a family at the Tui branch on a Saturday lunchtime when Burke entered with his hood up.

He then told a cashier: “I just want to apologise for what I am about to do.”

After killing Ms Hayes, Burke remained at the back of the shop and made apologies by saying that nobody deserved to see what happened, the court was told.

He was also heard to have made remarks to the effect that Ms Hayes “had it coming for her what she had done to his family”.

Image copyrightPA
Image caption Cassie Hayes’s mother Tracy (centre) was at court with her other daughter Nadine (second from right)

Image copyrightFamily handout
Image caption Cassie Hayes (left) with her mother Tracy Hayes (centre) and sister Nadine Hayes (right)

A post-mortem examination found Ms Hayes died of shock and haemorrhaging due to a wound to the throat.

The court heard police officers found Burke lying on the floor in the centre of the shop with his head towards the door.

He then told a firearms officer: “I’m no threat to you, officer. I’ve got nothing else on me. The knife’s on the table.”

Mr Cole 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.”

The court heard Burke also told police: “It was either kill me or kill her, so I killed her.”

He added: “Can you tell the family that was in here I’m sorry, I thought I’d waited till there were no kids in there.”

Image copyrightPeter Byrne
Image caption Andrew Burke attacked Cassie Hayes at the Tui store in Southport town centre

Burke, of Vincent Street, was the ex-partner of Ms Williams, 29, who had been in a relationship with Ms Hayes since the break-up.

He had been charged with harassing Ms Williams on 13 November and was bailed ahead of sentencing after being convicted of the offence on 12 January.

He was also the subject of an allegation of harassment against Ms Hayes from May and was issued with a police information notice warning him regarding any future contact.

Burke was also charged with making malicious communications in January when his mother Louise McConnell made a statement to police about remarks he had made to her over the phone when he repeatedly threatened 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.

In a statement after the sentencing, Ms Hayes’s family said: “Our lives have been torn apart and we will forever be broken.”

Paying tribute to Ms Hayes previously, Ms Williams described her as “my future wife and my forever”.