Killer strangled ex and stuffed her in suitcase while convinced she was 'trans paedophile harbouring young child'

The trial took place at Worcester Crown Court
The trial took place at Worcester Crown Court
Tom Evans

By Tom Evans

Published: 25/03/2022

- 18:25

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 10:58

Killer Charles Byrne also attempted to murder his ex-girlfriend's young daughter, smashing her head against the floor multiple times

A “dangerous” killer who strangled his ex-girlfriend and attempted to murder her young daughter after she saw her mum's body stuffed in a suitcase has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 16 years.

Charles Byrne admitted the manslaughter of Christina Rowe by diminished responsibility and the attempted murder of her child between February 9 and 10, 2021, after he had “lost his temper”.

Worcester Crown Court heard the young victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was woken by screams as her mum was strangled and fatally stabbed at her home in the city.

After killing Ms Rowe, 25-year-old Byrne attempted to murder her daughter by strangling her and smashing her head against the floor multiple times.

While the young child was unconscious, Byrne put the suitcase containing 28-year-old Ms Rowe’s body, weighed down with bricks, in his mum's car before driving to dump it in the River Severn.

The killer returned to the house with a shovel to bury the young girl, who had since regained consciousness and returned to her bed and pretended to be asleep.

The court was told Byrne “mercifully” decided not to kill the child when he re-entered the property and had said to himself he would “rather go to jail”.

Sentencing Byrne on Friday, Mr Justice Pepperall told the defendant he would be sent back to Ashworth high-security hospital for treatment for his paranoid schizophrenia, and would be transferred to prison if he recovered.

The court was told the defendant had gone to Ms Rowe’s home because of his delusional belief that she was a “transgender paedophile” who was “harbouring a young child”.

The judge told Byrne, formerly of Waterworks Road, Worcester: “Your attack on Ms Rowe caused her young daughter to wake up alarmed by her mother’s screams.

“The little girl went downstairs where she saw her mother’s corpse in the suitcase.

“Your instinct was not that you had saved her from Ms Rowe but that you should now kill the girl.

“I am sure that you intended to kill her because she was a witness to the killing of her mother.

“These were… appalling offences of the upmost gravity.

“I have no doubt whatsoever that you are a very dangerous man.”

In a victim impact statement read to the court by prosecutor Michael Burrows QC, Ms Rowe’s sister Stephanie said: “In time I will heal, but not any time soon.

“Life will no longer be the same. We will all have to live with the fact that Charles Byrne is alive and my sister is not.

“We feel as though we have been ‘Byrned’ alive. I just want to wake up and end this nightmare.”

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