Woman killed great uncle with ‘zombie’ blade in ‘savage and sustained attack’

A "callous" drug addict who repeatedly stabbed her great uncle in the neck and chest with a seven-inch 'zombie' knife has been jailed 27 years for his murder.

Kerry Donovan killed Leroy Junior Edwards, 66, in a "savage and sustained attack" at his home in Lewisham, south London, as she tried to feed her habit in the early hours of August 18 last year.

Donovan, who turns 30 on Friday, had been in financial difficulties and was a regular drug user.

The court heard it was possible Mr Edwards and Donovan, despite being related, had been having an adult sexual relationship which may have caused resentment in the defendant.

At the time of the murder she was visiting her great uncle with her cousin, Aaron Woolcock, and left her ID behind at the scene, where it was found by detectives.

On the eve of her birthday, Donovan was jailed for life with a minimum term or 27 years at the Old Bailey, with time already served reducing the term to 26 years behind bars.

Woolcock, who was previously found guilty of manslaughter after bringing a knife to the home, was jailed for 14 years.

Donovan and Woolcock, 30, left their great uncle to die after he was knifed several times.

Charlotte Newell, prosecuting, described the murder as a "savage and sustained attack".

She said: "The Crown's case is that this was a murder for money to feed a drug habit and a murder for gain.

"While Ms Donovan was under the influence of drink and drugs, she had the leading role, leaving her victim to die without seeking medical assistance."

The court heard it was possible Mr Edwards and Donovan had been having an adult sexual relationship which may have caused resentment in the defendant.

A pair of knickers with "weak traces" of both Mr Edwards' DNA and Ms Donovan's DNA were found under his pillow.

The judge rejected claims that Donovan was sexually assaulted by Mr Edwards as "nasty and false".

Sentencing Donovan, Nicholas Michael Heathcote Williams QC said: "I accept that she had a difficult upbringing.

"She may have suffered sexual abuse when she was a child, as she had told a probation worker and family support worker before the time of the murder.

"However, I reject her allegations that she had been sexually abused in childhood by Mr Edwards and that Mr Edwards had expressed a sexual interest in her younger brother.

"I am sure this allegations are untrue for the following reasons: in my judgement Ms Donovan is not a person whose word can be relied on unless she is either making an admission contrary to her own interest or what she says is supported by independent evidence.

"She had never made any allegation against Mr Edwards before the murder. Her motive in making these allegations after the murder was plainly to try and justify what she had done."

He said Donovan was dependent on crack cocaine and cannabis and that her finances were "precarious" as a result.

The judge described the evidence she gave during the trial as "lurid".

Mr Edwards, a father and grandfather, was found critically injured after a neighbour heard banging coming from inside his flat and discovered a trail of blood leading to the victim's door.

Donovan and Woolcock had fled the scene before police and paramedics arrived, but she left behind her purse containing her driver's licence and bank cards.

Mr Edwards was rushed to a south London hospital but died a short time later.

Murder detectives discovered that Donovan, of Southend-on-Sea in Essex, was in financial difficulties and was a regular user of Class A and B drugs.

She was found guilty of murder on March 19 following a trial at the Old Bailey.

Woolcock, of Lewisham, was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter.

Ms Newell read a shared victim impact from Mr Edwards' family.

She said: "It's an ongoing battle for all the family to come to terms with their beloved father being killed and never having enough opportunity to see him, speak with him, hold him and tell him they love him."

The statement said: "Our father will never be able to see all of his grandchildren grow up and do many great things – we have been robbed of our father and our children have been robbed of their grandfather.

"Our father should have been safe in his own home and when police told us that our cousin, his niece had killed him – with those words our worlds were turned upside down and torn apart and we will never be the same.

"Our father was a very trusting man, non judgemental, who would always see the best in people.. he was somebody we could always turn to."

Ms Newell added that Mr Edwards' children were not sleeping properly since his death and suffering anxiety.

Tracy Ayling, defending Donovan, claimed her client had murdered Mr Edwards out of revenge for a history of sexual abuse when she was a child but the judge dismissed this as an attempt to get away with the murder.

John Femi-Ola QC, defending Woolcock, claimed his client had been "misled" by Donovan and thought they were going to a party, not Mr Edwards' home.

But Judge Heathcote Williams said Woolcock knew what the knife was intended for.

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