Teenage killer freed after court hears of lover's abuse

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The Independent Online

A woman who killed her boyfriend by plunging a seven-inch carving knife into his heart to try to end their violent relationship walked free from court yesterday.

Julie Adamson, 18, from Hove, East Sussex, who killed 31-year-old Robert Kavanagh, was sentenced to three years on probation.

She stabbed her victim as he slept at her house in Downland Drive on 24 June last year.

Adamson, who was 17 at the time, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the ground of diminished responsibility at Lewes Crown Court last month. She had denied murder.

Judge Richard Brown, sentencing at the court, said it was an exceptional case.

He said: "I accept that at the time the defendant killed Mr Kavanagh she was suffering from depression, anxiety and a psychotic state as a result of her treatment by him."

Miss Adamson will also have to undergo regular psychiatric checks during her three years on probation.

Mr Kavanagh's body was cut up and the parts dumped in two separate locations in East Sussex. Mystery still surrounds the gruesome discovery of his dismembered head, torso and limbs, despite Adamson's conviction for his manslaughter. Police have put up a £2,000 reward for information that will help to catch those responsible.

As the judge announced the sentence to the court, a female relative of Mr Kavanagh was taken out by other relatives, shouting: "It's a joke. They are animals."

The court heard how the couple's violent 18-month relationship had left Adamson in a state of depression and anxiety, prompting her to kill Mr Kavanagh, formerly of Liverpool.

Adamson had met Mr Kavanagh in November 1997 when she was a 15-year-old schoolgirl taking her GCSEs at Hove Park School. Mr Kavanagh, then aged 29, was an alcoholic and a heroin and methadone addict with a considerable criminal record. The court was told he had made 16 court appearan-ces in connection with 49 offences, many to do with drink, drugs and violence.

During their turbulent relationship, Adamson's parents made her a ward of state and set out two separate injunction orders to try to prevent him seeing her. Despite repeated incidents of violence against her, the teenager refused to make witness statements to allow the police to prosecute him.

The campaign group Justice for Women, which has long called for judges to take into account violent relationships when considering such cases, welcomed the sentence.