The fiancée of Tom ap Rhys Pryce, the lawyer stabbed to death by two teenage robbers, has told of the "pain and horror" that the murder caused and of her grief in losing her "soulmate".
In a moving statement read out at the Old Bailey yesterday Adele Eastman, 32, described how she had been devastated by the killing of her future husband. She said: "In a matter of seconds wedding plans and a future together had changed to funeral plans and a lifetime apart."
Donnel Carty, 19, and Delano Brown, 18, were found guilty on Monday of murdering the City lawyer and stealing £20, his mobile phone and travel and bank cards, close to the home in London he shared with Ms Eastman.
Shortly after the "impact statement" was heard, the judge, Mr Justice Aikens, sentenced both teenagers to life, telling Carty he would serve at least 21 years and Brown a minimum of 17 years.
Carty and Brown sat impassively, a few feet away from Ms Eastman, a 32-year-old solicitor, and Mr ap Rhys Pryce's parents, Estella and John.
Ms Eastman's statement, read by Richard Horwell QC, counsel for the prosecution, said: "I had hoped I might be able to read my statement from the witness box in open court. I wanted Carty and Brown to hear directly from me the absolute devastation which they have caused."
The judge explained that under legal protocol she was not able to read the statement herself.
Ms Eastman said: "I feel as though [they] have ripped out my heart with their bare hands and torn it very slowly into pieces."
Carty and Brown targeted the lawyer as he made his way home from Kensal Green Tube station in north-west London in January. When he refused to hand over his belongings, he was stabbed in the chest, face, thigh and arm. Thirty minutes before the murder, they had robbed Kurshid Ali, a chef, at Kensal Green station.
They were in a gang that carried out a seven-month mugging spree. Two of the victims were stabbed in the thigh with a knife.
Mr Justice Aikens told Carty and Brown that he could not tell who wielded the knife but he considered both to be equally guilty. He added: "You have shown no remorse as yet. I can only hope that in the future you will have some glimpse of how dreadful your crime was and the suffering you have caused."
Outside the court, John ap Rhys Pryce, the father of the dead man, said: "Nothing can bring Tom back to us, but we are pleased and grateful that justice has been done. The conviction of Brown and Carty for the murder of our son and son-in-law, merely for a mobile phone and an Oyster [travel] card, was a callous and senseless crime which has devastated the lives of his family, his fiancée and his friends.
"We hope that the sentences of 17 and 21 years will send a message to other youths who are in the habit of carrying knives."
The dead man's elder brother Mike, said in the Evening Standard: "Tom's murder will haunt me for the rest of my life, knowing that he died alone in the road just yards from his home and the loving arms of his fiancée."