Kitten row murderer jailed for life

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A man who stabbed his partner to death in an argument that stemmed from a disagreement about their kitten was sentenced to life in prison today.

Andrew Day, who turned 23 on Sunday, was told he would serve a minimum of 15 years behind bars after a jury at Luton Crown Court found him guilty of the murder of Ellen Leach last May.

During the trial, the court heard Day stabbed 25-year-old Ms Leach after a disagreement about naming their kitten exploded into a fatal argument at their flat in The Truncalls, Luton.

The couple argued about the mum-of-two, known as Becky, meeting up with an ex-boyfriend, who was the father of one of her daughters, neither of whom lived with her.

As the row reached its height Day, a keen knife collector, stabbed his partner twice in the back with his "favourite" Bowie knife.

He then tossed the knife out of the window while dialling 999.

When a paramedic arrived to treat the seriously injured young mum, Day fled the scene to a nearby Shell garage where he concocted a story of someone else stabbing Miss Leach.

During the trial, he admitted stabbing Ms Leach twice in the back, but said he had "exploded" after she made a particular comment about his mother.

The court heard when he was arrested by armed police, Day told officers he had stabbed the 25-year-old, claiming his mind had "gone blank" after she slapped him.

Day will serve life imprisonment for Ms Leach's murder, but was told today that 239 days served on remand would count towards the sentence.

Speaking after the verdict and sentence today, Detective Inspector Mick Trotman, of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said he hoped the result would help Becky's family start to put the trauma of her death behind them.

He said: "Becky's death has touched many people. She should have been able to feel safe in her own home but instead was violently killed by the man she shared that home with."

After her death, Ms Leach's family, who described themselves as very close, spoke of their loss.

Her mother Diane Leach, then 45, said: "My daughter was only two months into her 25th birthday when she was tragically taken from us.

"My daughter had everything to live for, she loved her life, her sisters and her daughters, they were her life.

"Becky's character was unique; bubbly, funny, and everyone that knew her laughed with her and sometimes would cry with laughter with her mannerisms and jokey way.

"Now we all share our tears in grief of how her life was ripped from our hearts - we will never feel the same."