Ex-lover jailed for nurse's 'frenzied' killing

Charlotte McCathie,Press Association
Sunday 23 October 2011 00:12

A man who brutally murdered a nurse during a "frenzied attack" was sentenced to life in prison today.

Iranian-born Iman Saeed Ghaefelipour, 28, stabbed his ex-girlfriend Katie Cullen 130 times in the head before gouging out her right eye.

Her mutilated body was found on October 22 last year after police were called to her house on Harcourt Street in Stockport.

Ms Cullen, 34, met pizza delivery worker Ghaefelipour, of Stretford Road, Urmston, Greater Manchester, at a salsa dancing class in early 2008.

They became a couple and she introduced the asylum seeker to her family and friends, Manchester Crown Court heard.

But the nurse, a senior sister in cardiology at the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, finished with him when she discovered he had taken £3,000 from her bank account.

She refused to press charges and agreed he could pay her back in instalments.

Ghaefelipour went to her house on October 20, perhaps to pay her back some of the money, Graham Wood QC, prosecuting, told the court.

After she let him in, he launched into a "horrific and sustained assault, not even ceasing in his frenzied attack when she lost consciousness", he said.

Concerned family members called the police when the dedicated nurse did not turn up for work.

Officers found her body in a pool of blood. She was lying in her lounge with her arms outstretched and had a cloth over her face, the court heard.

When they lifted the cloth, they discovered her right eye was missing.

It was later found dumped in a plastic bag, along with the knife that was used to kill her.

Ghaefelipour was arrested the next day by officers when boarding a bus in Stretford, Greater Manchester.

He denied killing Ms Cullen, before changing his plea to guilty in January.

Ghaefelipour stabbed her in the head and neck, attempted to cut off her hand and bit her upper arm, before removing her eye when she was already dead, the court heard.

CCTV showed him near the scene, and her blood was found on his jeans and at his house.

Mr Justice Ryder sentenced him to a minimum of 23 years in prison and ordered his deportation.

Ghaefelipour is "a very dangerous man whose evil knows no bounds", he said.

"That she had the misfortune to meet you was a tragedy.

"The seeds of an insane jealousy took hold of you and led to your wholly irrational attack.

"It is fortunate she is likely to have been unconscious at the time you inflicted most of the injuries.

"You could not have what you wanted, that is Katie Cullen, and you set about ensuring no one else could have the benefit of her human company and love," he said.

Ms Cullen's mother Diane, father Peter, brother Patrick and sister Alison read a statement outside court, saying she was a "very special daughter and sister".

"Now the judicial proceedings are completed, we as Katie's family would like to say a few words in tribute to her memory.

"She was a beautiful, gentle, caring person who was devoted to her family and friends, and who brought love and meaning into our lives. We loved her dearly.

"She saw only goodness in everyone and had a generosity and selflessness that made her special. She loved people and enjoyed life and was warm-hearted, compassionate and sincere.

"Katie was passionate about patients in her care and was known throughout the UK for her high-quality teaching in the field of cardiology.

"We are all intensely proud of everything Katie achieved in her life and we will miss her more than words can ever say.

"We will never forget you, Katie. You will always be in our hearts."

Senior investigating officer Andy Tattersall said: "Ghaefelipour may have gone to Katie's house that night to repay some of his debt, but when he got there the pair got into an argument and when he struggled to accept that Katie wanted to move on, he brutally murdered her.

"Katie was a successful, hard-working and much loved young woman. Ghaefelipour, out of jealousy and obsession, showed an unimaginable level of violence and his actions have truly shocked and devastated Katie's family."