Scorned lover, 26, jailed for life after stabbing victim to death

Scorned lover, 26, who stabbed farmer’s wife mother-of-three, 47, to death in one of the UK’s ‘poshest villages’ after she ended their relationship because she was worried about their age gap is jailed for life

  • John Jessop, 26, jailed for more than 17 years after being found guilty of murder 
  • Clair Ablewhite, 47, fatally stabbed at her home in Colston Bassett in February
  • ‘Bewildered’ Jessop had refused to accept Ablewhite breaking off their fling
  • He cycled 17 miles to her home, stopping for a pasty, before slitting her throat 

A scorned lover who sliced his victim’s throat after he was unable to accept her ending the relationship was today jailed for life. 

Mother-of-three Clair Ablewhite, 47, was brutally stabbed to death by younger lover John Jessop in the picturesque village of Colston Basset on the outskirts of Nottinghamshire in February.

Jessop, 26, was described as ‘bewildered’ when Ms Ablewhite chose to ‘cool off’ the couple’s fling after admitting to concerns over their age difference – before cycling to her £450,000 cottage home where he launched a ‘persistent and brutal’ attack. 

The killer showed no emotion in the dock as he was today jailed for life with a minimum term of 17 years and eight months at Nottinghamshire Crown Court. 

Scorned lover John Jessop (pictured) sliced his victim’s throat after he was unable to accept and was today jailed for life

Clair Ablewhite, 47, (above) was killed in Colston Basset, Nottinghamshire in February by John Jessop, 26 who today pleaded guilty to her murder

Mrs Ablewhite suffered extensive knife wounds to the neck and chest, and well as a series of blunt force and defensive injuries during the vicious attack.

Factory worker Jessop left the £450,000 property without alerting the authorities, and arrived back at his flat in Newark, Notts, in the early hours of the morning.

Mrs Ablewhite’s body was discovered by her shocked 74-year-old father Graham Tinkley in the bloodstained home the following day.

Mr Tinkley, who found his daughter lying by the fireplace still in her pyjamas, told the court: ‘To this day I wake up in the night; panic attacks. I see Clair in my dreams. 

‘I see blood gushing from her throat trying to resuscitate her dead body.’

The factory worker, who met his lover on the Facebook Dating website, later became the subject of a manhunt and was arrested 11 days following the murder, which took place on the night of February 25 last year. 

The manhunt prompted Jessop to warn friends just three days before his arrest: ‘This might be my last night out, I’m on borrowed time’. 

Jessop, 26, had cycled almost 18 miles from his home in Newark, stopping on the way for a pasty, before slitting the throat of ‘one-in-a-million’ farmer’s wife Ms Ablewhite. 

Jessop, 26, had cycled almost 18 miles from his home in Newark, stopping on the way for a pasty, before slitting the throat of ‘one-in-a-million’ farmer’s wife Ms Ablewhite

Pictured: John Jessop is led away in handcuffs as he is arrested at his workplace last year

The case prompted senior police officers to put out a warning for internet users to ‘think about who they interact with online and to ensure their safety is protected from violent and predatory people like Jessop.’ 

Ms Ablewhite had married at the age of 19 and spent the majority of her life working on the farm she shared with her husband, whom she had three children with.

When the marriage was cut short, she moved to the quiet confines of Colston Bassett to set up a new life for herself. 

Neighbours said the 47-year-old, who worked as a local dog walker, had only moved into a rented house in the village a short time before the attack on the evening of February 25.

Christopher Donnellan KC, prosecuting, told the hearing how Mrs Ablewhite met Jessop in September 2021 – five months before she was murdered.

However, it resumed again the following February, and the pair saw each other a number of times until Jessop ‘raised concerns’ around the time of Valentines’ Day.

Jessop, stops off at a local convenience store to buy a pasty just hours before murdering Clair Ablewhite

Jessop was also captured on CCTV images (above) close to Ms Ablewhite’s home on the night of her murder

Mr Donnellan said he messaged Mrs Ablewhite asking her not to ‘mess him around’, adding: ‘If you don’t want to see me any more, you just have to say.’

The court heard he continued to press her for an explanation as to why the ‘relationship had cooled’, and ‘did not accept age difference as a reason’.

One later message he sent read: ‘Can you not give me the real reason you have gone off me? Was I too intense?’

Mr Donnellan told the hearing that on the night she was attacked, Mrs Ablewhite went to the pub with friends and returned to the cottage where she had been living for around six weeks, chatting to a neighbour before going inside.

He said Jessop cycled in the dark from his home, leaving his phone there to ‘provide an alibi’, and parked up in the village some way from Mrs Ablewhite’s property before walking there.

The court heard she was attacked at around 10.09pm – with her screams being picked up on a neighbour’s CCTV system.

The next morning, after she failed to tend to her horses in a nearby field, a worried friend contacted her son, who then phoned Mrs Ablewhite’s father, Graham Tinkley.

Mr Tinkley let himself in to his daughter’s home – and found her lying dead by a fireplace, still in her pyjamas.

A search for her killer was launched by detectives, with a series of CCTV appeals launched. Jessop was eventually identified after officers painstakingly traced his route from the scene of the killing back to his home.

Peter Joyce KC, defending, claimed Jessop had attacked his victim ‘in the spur of the moment’ after travelling to her cottage to ‘seek an explanation’.

He said: ‘He was bewildered, troubled as to why the woman who had invited him round before was now saying, ‘Sorry, I won’t tell you why, but we can’t see each other again’.

‘A row led to violence, and led to him pleading guilty to murder. It was a short attack that took place on a loss of temper during a row between two people.

Ms Ablewhite’s sons previously paid tribute to their ‘one in a million’ and ‘truly one of a kind’ mother (pictured above)

Colston Bassett is based in the Vale of Belvoir on the Nottinghamshire-Leicestershire border and has a population of around 400.

‘He has had a limited relationship with the opposite sex. He did have feelings for this woman, and it all went horribly wrong that night.’

In moving victim impact statements, members of Mrs Ablewhite’s family said Jessop was an ‘evil killer’ who ‘could not accept rejection’. 

And following her death, two of Ms Ablewhite’s sons paid tribute to her, describing her as ‘one in a million’.

Dan Ablewhite, 28, previously wrote on Facebook: ‘I love you so much mum. I just want to see that beautiful big smile and give you a hug and tell you how much you mean to us all.

‘You really was one in a million, rest in peace, sleep tight, remember and dream about all the good times we had together.’

Meanwhile Sam Ablewhite, 20, said: ‘RIP Mum we all miss you so much

‘You really was one in a million. Words cannot describe how hard my life will be without seeing that beautiful big smile you had.

‘Rest in peace, Sleep tight and remember all the good times we had together.

‘All 3 of us brothers will do everything we can to put a proud little smile on your face up there.’

Colston Bassett was this week included in the Daily Telegraph’s ’54 Poshest Villages in Britain’ list, with the average house price costing £786,955. 

The sleepy village, with a population of around 400, is also known for its deep history as the home of traditional Shropshire and Stilton blue cheese.

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