Stalker jailed for killing woman who rejected him

A "delusional" slaughterman was jailed for life yesterday for killing a woman who rejected him, in front of her three daughters with a bolt-gun, hours after she called police to complain that he was stalking her.

John McFarlane, 40, had become obsessed with Mary Griffiths, 38, and was enraged when the fitness instructor posted a message on Facebook saying he was "delusional" if he thought they would ever have a relationship.

In May, he used an axe to break through the back door of her home in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, turned off the lights, dragged her from the bed in which she was sleeping with her 10-year-old daughter, then beat her and tried to strangle her. She managed to escape outside, but McFarlane chased her and shot her with the bolt-gun as her 13-year-old daughter shouted, "Don't do it. Stop it". Neighbours who witnessed the attack called it "clinical, deliberate and like an execution".

After the murder, McFarlane, who worked at the nearby Denham estate, sent a text message to a friend saying he had done it to teach Ms Griffiths a lesson; then he slashed his arms in an apparent suicide bid.

McFarlane, who had admitted murder, was told by the Old Bailey judge he would serve at least 20 years.

Ms Griffiths' family described McFarlane as "the devil incarnate". Outside the court yesterday, the victim's sister Louise Scannell said: "Mary was the most beautiful person I have ever known. She was a dedicated mother and always strove to do her best for her girls."

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating. A spokesman said: "The investigation is concentrating on the very questions Mary's family are seeking answers to: how Suffolk Police reacted following her non-emergency call the day before her murder reporting harassment."

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