A grieving daughter has spoken heart-wrenchingly about losing her mum, with whom she was only recently reunited, at the hands of her partner.
Jayne Lewis was found dead at her Sheffield home, where she had been strangled by her long-term partner Philip French, on December 21 last year.
The 46-year-old mum-of two had only recently been reunited with her daughter Laura, now aged 25, with whom she had lost contact when she was only four years old.
As French was sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday, Laura talked movingly about how they had quickly made up for lost time, only for her mother to be taken from her just days before Christmas.
The court heard how she had recently moved to Sheffield to be near her mum, who lived on Hazelbank Crescent in Jordanthorpe, and the pair were incredibly close.
Laura, whose first name only was given in court, spoke of her mum’s killing as the ‘ultimate betrayal’ and urged everyone to cherish their time with their mother because ‘tomorrow they may be gone’.
“The hardest day of my life was the day I had to identify my mum’s body,” she said.
“I had hoped there was a mistake and it wouldn’t be her.
“My mum was more like my best friend or sister, with whom I would laugh all the time.
“I’d waited 21 years for my mum to come back into my life. I’m so grateful she made contact and we began making up for lost time.
“Mum would call over and over again if I didn't answer, to make sure I was OK.
“I moved to Sheffield to be close to Mum and I thought it would be the start of even better things for us….
“I never really liked Christmas but I like it even less now… if it was up to me, I would shut myself away.
“I want to tell people to treasure their mum and make the most of every day because tomorrow they may be gone.
“My mum left too soon. I’m sorry for the times I will never get to share with her. She won’t get to see me walk down the aisle or get to meet her grandchildren.
“I take comfort from people telling me how much like my mum I am and what a lovely person she was – someone who would do anything for anyone.
“I have nightmares which I think are because I don’t know why it happened. I can’t help thinking that if I knew what was going to happen I could have had Mum come and stay with me.
“Even now, when the phone rings I hope it will be Mum. I’ve kept her answer phone message and ring her to hear her voice, which is a comfort….
“I just want to be able to tell her again ‘I love you’.
“It’s hard to lose anyone but to lose them at the hands of someone I know she loved is even harder. It’s the ultimate betrayal of both my mum's and my trust.”
French, aged 47, who lived with Miss Lewis, was due to stand trial on Monday for murder but entered a plea of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, which was accepted.
The court heard how he suffered from severe depression with psychotic symptoms and had told a psychiatrist after killing Miss Lewis that he was convinced she was a ‘decoy robot’ and the real Jayne was still alive.
He was sentenced under the Mental Health Act to a hospital order with restrictions, meaning he must continue to be treated at a secure hospital until medics are confident he is fit to leave.
In a statement, issued after the sentencing, Miss Lewis’ family said: “On behalf of Jayne, we would like to thank all who knew her for their love and continued support of her.”
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Handley, the senior investigating officer in the case, said: “French’s actions on that day have left Miss Lewis’ loved ones utterly devastated.
“Miss Lewis’ daughter in particular has been left deeply affected by the death of her mother and while French’s guilty plea today will never bring her back, I hope that her family can take some comfort in French admitting to what he did.”