Colston Bassett: Man who stabbed ex to death jailed for lifeon January 4, 2023 at 5:05 pm

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John Jessop, 26, murdered 47-year-old Clair Ablewhite shortly after their relationship ended.

Clair AblewhiteImage source, Family photo

A man who stabbed a mother-of-three to death shortly after their relationship ended has been given a life sentence for her murder.

John Jessop, 26, will serve a minimum of 17 years and eight months for killing 47-year-old Clair Ablewhite at her home in Nottinghamshire.

Jessop cycled 17 miles from his home in Newark in order to murder Ms Ablewhite in Colston Bassett, then cycled back.

Police said the attack he inflicted on her was “brutal and relentless”.

“The nature of her injuries to the head and chest appeared very personal,” Det Insp Mel Crutchley, of Nottinghamshire Police, said.

“In any homicide investigation I always remain open-minded and keep the information, intelligence, and evidence under constant review.

“However, I formed the opinion very early on in this investigation that Clair’s killer was known to her.”

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Sentencing at Nottingham Crown Court on Wednesday, Judge Stuart Rafferty KC said Jessop had “bludgeoned her repeatedly”, initially while unarmed, and then used one of Ms Ablewhite’s own kitchen knives to stab her and cut her throat.

“It should be said that there are two facets to what you used the knife for,” he said.

“The fatal injuries to her were to and around her neck, but on her chest there were a series of other injuries, none of which penetrated very far, three of which certainly were delivered in quick succession.

“Only you know why you did that. That seems to me to indicate that you were angry with her.

“Shortly after you cut her throat and did certainly kill her.”

John Jessop custody image

Image source, Nottinghamshire Police

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Ms Ablewhite was brought up in Bingham, Nottinghamshire, and had spent most of her life working on the farm she shared with her husband, having married at the age of 19.

The couple had three sons together. When the marriage ended, she moved out of the family home and started renting a cottage in Hall Lane, Colston Bassett, in January 2022.

Police said she had been in an “intimate relationship” with Jessop from September 2021, but this ended in the middle of February 2022.

“The contact ceased mainly due to concern over the age difference, and it was evident from the communication that he had been at her Colston Bassett address during the six weeks she had resided there,” Det Insp Crutchley said.

Jessop then murdered her on the evening of 25 February 2022, and she was found dead by her 74-year-old father the following day.

He had been alerted by one of her three sons, who had in turn had been alerted by one of Ms Ablewhite’s friends, who noticed she had not gone to feed her horses.

Panic attacks

Reading his victim personal statement to the court, Graham Tinkley described walking into her home and seeing a puddle of blood, then seeing his daughter on the floor.

“I still can’t understand why you brutally murdered her in this way,” he said to Jessop.

He described having to give her CPR, as instructed by the 999 operator, even though she was already dead.

Turning to face the defendant, he said: “I could see the stab wound there where John Jessop had slashed her throat.

“I had to do this on my daughter’s dead body.”

He told the court he still wakes up at night from panic attacks and sees his daughter in his dreams.

The first CCTV image caught of Jessop close to Clair Ablewhite's home on the night of the murder

Image source, Nottinghamshire Police

Police were able to trace Jessop using CCTV and dashcam footage.

Officers were initially contacted by Ms Ablewhite’s neighbour – who was in France at the time and spotted a hooded man while viewing his home security camera using his mobile phone.

Police said it was an audio camera, so it also captured the sound of the assault that ended Ms Ablewhite’s life.

Officers then spent hours trawling through CCTV and dashcam footage in order to trace Jessop’s journey.

They also found Ms Ablewhite’s phone in a stream, as Jessop had taken it after the murder. It was severely water damaged but police were able to retrieve the information. They found she had been using a dating website, and also found WhatsApp messages between her and Jessop.

“He was identified as being known to Clair via social media and had been in an intimate relationship with her,” Det Insp Crutchley said.

Police arrested Jessop and charged him with murder on 11 March. He later pleaded guilty at Nottingham Crown Court on 12 October.

In mitigation, Jessop’s barrister Peter Joyce KC said the defendant had spared the family from having to go through a trial by pleading guilty.

The judge reduced the sentence from 20 years because of the guilty plea.

Police track John Jessop's journey by bike from Newark to Colston Bassett and back

Image source, Nottinghamshire Police

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