Man stands trial for ‘murdering his girlfriend’

PUBLISHED: 17:51 21 May 2018

Lisa Marie Thornton died aged 36.

Lisa Marie Thornton died aged 36.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary

A man accused of murdering his girlfriend told a medical expert he had ‘dreams of stabbing her in the back’, a jury was told today (Monday).

Owen Pellow, aged 43, appeared at Bristol Crown Court today accused of killing 36-year-old Lisa Marie Thornton.

The mother-of-four was found in their home in Berrow Road, in Burnham-on-Sea, on November 23 with 39 stab wounds in her chest and neck.

Pellow, of Berrow Road, is on trial after pleading not guilty.

Prosecutor Edward Burgess QC described Pellow and Ms Thornton’s relationship as ‘volatile’ since they started dating in 2015 and they had a son together who has since been put up for adoption.

He described the victim as a ‘slight woman’ who was 5ft 5ins tall who had a history of drug and alcohol abuse as well as struggling with anxiety and depression and had threatened to kill herself in the past.

Pellow called 999 at around 7.30am on the day of the alleged murder and said Ms Thornton was dead, claiming it was suicide.

Police constables Ryan Dinham and Ryan Wills were first on the scene where they were greeted by Pellow, who had blood on his face and clothing, where he was arrested.

Mr Burgess said: “When they arrived at the scene the defendant said ‘Lisa had done herself in’ meaning she had killed herself. When he referred to her, he called her ‘my love’.

“PC Wills entered the building and went upstairs to find her body lying on a mattress on the floor of an extremely cluttered and untidy room wearing a cardigan and knickers and nothing else.”

Emergency services rushed to the house and made every attempt to revive Ms Thornton before she was officially pronounced dead at 8.14am.

In interview, Pellow told officers he and Ms Thornton had been watching old films before he went downstairs to use the bathroom and attempt to roll a cigarette.

The defendant said he came back upstairs and heard ‘stabbing sounds as if they were coming from a butcher’s shop’.

He said he walked in to see Ms Thornton stab herself eight times before slouching over and stabbing herself again.

He told police he then took the knife and ‘threw it out of her reach’.

Pellow’s phone was confiscated and revealed to have 37 pictures and one video showing Lisa’s body – none of which will be shown to the jury as they were deemed to be ‘too graphic’ and ‘disturbing’.

Police officers also found a bloodied towel in the washer/dryer at the flat which DNA confirms was the victims.

Dr Deborah Cook carried out a post-mortem and found there were 39 stab wounds, with one in Mr Thornton’s inner knee, one on the back left shoulder and the rest to her chest and neck.

However Dr Cook did not believe the wounds were self-inflicted.

Mr Burgess said: “(Pellow) told police Ms Thornton had a cold for two weeks, her ex-husband had delayed her from seeing her daughters and she was angry their son had been taken into care.

“She also had issues in her own childhood.”

A mental health nurse sat down with Pellow on December 7 and showed him the post-mortem report including reference to the injury in Ms Thornton’s shoulder.

Mr Burgess said: “He said he had dreams of stabbing her in the back and she had wishes of them dying together.”

“He told her he ‘must have tried to kill her’ and himself but, though he said he was injured, the nurse saw ‘no signs he was’.

The case is expected to run for the remainder of the week before the jury delivers its verdict.

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