Killer husband who lured wife to derelict mental hospital and stabbed her 20 times caged for 23 years

A KILLER husband who lured his wife to a derelict mental hospital where he knifed her 20 times has today been jailed for 23 years.

"Persistent domestic abuser," Michael Cowey, 49, told 38-year-old Gemma Cowey he wanted to meet to talk – but then started an argument over their relationship.

He then took two knives he had hidden in his socks and stabbed her 20 times in the back and neck.

Detective Inspector Lewis Craske, from the Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team, said: "The murder of Gemma Cowey was a cowardly attack by a man who could no longer control his victim.

"The investigation into the circumstances of this killing, the relationship with not only Gemma, but also past partners established that Cowey was a persistent domestic abuser who has devastated the lives of many women.

"This selfish act has seen a family torn to shreds.

"I hope that the sentence today brings some closure not only to Gemma's family but also to those whose lives have been damaged by his actions."

Emergency services, including the air ambulance, were called after members of the public found Gemma with serious injuries in a derelict building, believed to be the old hospital mortuary in June this year.

Despite treatment, Gemma, who was described by her family as “beautiful” and a “devoted” mother to her three children, was pronounced dead at the scene.


Women's Aid has this advice for victims and their families:

  • Always keep your phone nearby.
  • Get in touch with charities for help, including the Women’s Aid live chat helpline and services such as SupportLine.
  • If you are in danger, call 999.
  • Familiarise yourself with the Silent Solution, reporting abuse without speaking down the phone, instead dialing “55”.
  • Always keep some money on you, including change for a pay phone or bus fare.
  • If you suspect your partner is about to attack you, try to go to a lower-risk area of the house – for example, where there is a way out and access to a telephone.
  • Avoid the kitchen and garage, where there are likely to be knives or other weapons. Avoid rooms where you might become trapped, such as the bathroom, or where you might be shut into a cupboard or other small space.

If you are a ­victim of domestic abuse, SupportLine is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6pm to 8pm on 01708 765200. The charity’s email support ­service is open weekdays and weekends during the crisis – [email protected].

Women’s Aid provides a live chat service available. from 10am to noon.

You can also call the freephone 24-hour ­National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

A post mortem examination found she had died as a result of stab wounds.

Cowey was arrested three hours later, 120 miles away in Warwickshire, and was taken back to Norfolk for questioning.

He admitted to the horrific murder last month, as well as possession of two knives in a public place.

Cowey was sentenced to 23 years in prison today, Norfolk Police said.

Speaking after Cowey was jailed, his victim's mother Linda Smith said: "No sentence will ever be enough for what the evil perpetrator did to our Gemma.

"We have nightmares about the pain and fear she went through in the final minutes of her life.

"On behalf of our family we wish to express our huge thanks and appreciation to everyone that tried to save our Gemma's life.

"We can only imagine how utterly shocking it was to find Gemma and see such devastation to a young woman's body."

Ms Cowey's father Eric Marjoram said she was "beautiful, kind, funny and loving".

He added: "We will never recover from her loss, we can only learn to live with it and our lives are now forever tinged with utter sadness and emptiness."

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