Man jailed after trying to behead ex-lover

A MAN who tried to cut off his ex-girlfriend's head after he suffered psychotic delusions that she was planning to kill him has been jailed indefinitely.

A MAN who tried to cut off his ex-girlfriend's head after he suffered psychotic delusions that she was planning to kill him has been jailed indefinitely.

Benjamin Cooper, 35, hacked at Claire Marshall's throat with a pen-knife and also used a kitchen knife in a bid to cut her from "ear to ear".

Cooper was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court to a minimum of six years for public protection before he is entitled to apply to the Parole Board for release.

The teenage daughter of Miss Marshall, 35, whose father Jim lives in Milden, near Hadleigh, watched in horror as the attack took place in front of her at the family home in Millom, Cumbria, in January 2009.


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Cooper held the knife to the girl but she escaped with her younger sister and alerted neighbours.

The blood-soaked defendant then drove to the home of his stepfather Gerald Fern and attempted to kill him with a meat cleaver.

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Manchester Crown Court was told police and ambulance crews arrived at the scene but Miss Marshall was already dead from an attack of the "utmost savagery'.

The court heard Miss Marshall suffered 21 wounds to the head and neck, 12 to the right arm and eight to the left arm, with lesser injuries to the lips and mouth.

Cooper, of Wellington Street, Millom, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and also to the attempted murder of his stepfather.

He will serve his sentence in a secure hospital under close psychiatric supervision but may be transferred to prison if his mental condition improves.

In 1994, Miss Marshall's mother, Marjorie, 50, was stabbed 30 times with a kitchen knife and left to die by her son John at the family home in Tetbury, Gloucestershire. Both John and Claire had been adopted.

He admitted manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility but walked free from Bristol Crown Court after his father said he had forgiven his son and pleaded to the judge for mercy.

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