Mum murdered by husband at mental hospital ‘died screaming for her babies’

A woman who was "just beginning to get her life together" after years with "a violent, controlling, selfish bully" died screaming for her babies, a horrified court heard on Friday.

Gemma Cowey, 38, was savagely stabbed by her estranged husband in a derelict mental hospital after she refused to get back together with him.

Michael Cowey, 49, of Norwich, Norfolk, who appeared in court by video link was today jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 23 years behind bars for the murder of the mother-of-three.

He was also given a concurrent two and a half year sentence on each of two counts of possessing an offensive weapon.

The court heard how customer services adviser Gemma had met Cowey in 2014 and married him in 2018.

She left him in January this year because of his constant violent behaviour.

Gemma and her children had gone to live with her mother Linda Smith and she had been "gaining in strength and self-confidence".

She maintained contact with her former husband for the sake of the two children they had together.

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In June, Cowey lured her to St Andrew's Hospital at Thorpe St Andrew near Norwich. He took two knives to the meeting.

Cowey told officers: "I did not go to that mortuary with the intent of killing Gemma. I thought I was going to, but I didn't have the intent of doing it.

"I was hoping she would come back. She is an amazing woman. I thought she was cheating on me. I mentioned a name to her and she threw coffee in my face. It was boiling hot and I lost it. Then I stabbed her."

Prosecutor Stephen Spence said the Crown did not believe that the attack was "a spontaneous result" of Gemma throwing coffee, as he had gone to the meeting armed with knives.

He insisted it was more likely that she might have thrown coffee while trying to defend herself from his knife attack.

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Two men who had been working nearby went to investigate after hearing a woman screaming loudly "for some time" from the disused mortuary, said Mr Spence.

Gemma's mother said in her victim impact statement that her daughter was "the epitome of love and kindness".

But she said that she had been left "bedraggled and exhausted, a shadow of her former self" by Cowey after being "enslaved into his pathetic world of abuse".

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She added: "The pure evil of what he did compounds my mind every day. Gemma fought for her life, we know this because she had defence wounds.

"Knowing this causes utter pain in my mind and heart. I see Gemma screaming for her life, I see the fear and pain in her face when she sees the knives.

"It is believed that she was screaming for her babies and my heart twists in agony when I think of this.

"My natural instinct as a parent is to protect my children, I am utterly destroyed that I wasn't able to protect her in the final minutes of her life."

Gemma's father Eric Marjoram said she had been "happy and bubbly" and looking forward to her new life without Cowey.

He said: "When Gemma was murdered, she was just beginning to get her life together again and for the first time in years the light was back in her eyes."

If you have been affected by issues of domestic violence or coercive control you can call Refuge 's 24-Hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free. The number is 0808 2000 247

If you believe you are in immediate danger, always call 999.

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