Man gets life for mother and baby murder

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The Independent Online

A bar manager was jailed for life today for the murder of his girlfriend and their 10-month-old daughter in a "sustained and fearsome" knife attack after hearing voices saying he should kill them.

Anthony Marsh plunged the weapon into half-naked Stephanie Bellinger, 24, more than 30 times as she slept in the bedroom of their home in Totton, Hampshire, in February this year.

The prosecution said the killing of Miss Bellinger had "powerful elements of sexual motivation and revenge".

Their daughter Lili Marsh was stabbed once through the head as she lay on the same bed.

The 22-year-old admitted the killings, but denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Marsh closed his eyes as the jury at Winchester Crown Court gave its verdict after 10 hours of deliberations.

The Judge, Mr Justice Holroyde, will pass sentence tomorrow morning when he will tell Marsh the minimum term he will serve before he is eligible for parole.

The jury heard during the two-week trial that Marsh suffered from bipolar disorder and the family were in £13,000 debt, partly because he lost his job after he stole from a pub he worked in.

He often fled the family home and went to other cities, sleeping rough before handing himself in at hospitals.

Marsh told police he heard voices telling him to kill his girlfriend and daughter. He did not kill the couple's two and half-year-old son, who he left locked in the house after the murders, because he was able to resist the voices.

He said he had counted to 50 several times before he started the attack but he continued as Miss Bellinger screamed and tried to fend off the blade. He then killed Lili.

At the end of the attack, he left the knife embedded in Miss Bellinger's mouth and then fled the scene.

Miss Bellinger's mother and sister discovered the "truly distressing scene" when they broke in and found the son unharmed but alone.

Her family wept in the public gallery as the verdicts were given.

Christopher Parker QC, prosecuting, said: "He (Marsh) said in the week of the killings he had wished he didn't have to worry about Stephanie. He said voices had been telling him he should kill Stephanie."

But the barrister said it was not a mercy killing, but one that had sexual elements to it.

The jury was shown distressing images of the scene and Mr Parker told them the body of Ms Bellinger had been "left as if she was a victim of a sexual assault" and it was "indicative of a sexual type of killing and not consistent with a mercy killing".

"Something within the relationship had changed despite Stephanie's long standing concern for his well being," the barrister said.

"The scene showed powerful elements of sexual motivation and revenge."

The fact something had changed was apparent, Mr Parker told the jury, because Marsh had never been violent towards his wife or anyone.

"Something within the relationship has caused him to snap," he said.