Leeds & West Yorkshire

Pregnant woman's Christmas Day murderer James Hutchinson jailed

James Hutchinson Image copyright West Yorkshire Police
Image caption Hutchinson was obsessed with the unfounded notion his partner had been unfaithful

A man has been jailed for life for killing his pregnant partner on Christmas Day.

James Hutchinson, 43, pleaded guilty to murdering mother-of-two Nicola Woodman at her home in Bankholme Court, Bradford.

Miss Woodman, 39, received multiple injuries during the attack which involved two knives and a wooden pick-axe handle, Bradford Crown Court heard.

Hutchinson was told he must serve at least 23 years in prison.

Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC said earlier that Hutchinson would only be considered for early release if the parole board deemed him to be safe.

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On the day of the murder, Hutchinson, who drank and used drugs, was on conditional bail from prison for another offence he committed in November 2016.

Prosecutor Jonathan Sharp said: "Either, while he was in custody, or shortly afterwards, he began to become obsessed with the idea that Nicola was being unfaithful to him."

The court heard there was no evidence to justify Hutchinson's opinion though.

Miss Woodman suffered at least 102 external injuries, including more than 20 stab wounds.

Image copyright West Yorkshire Police
Image caption Nicola Woodman's family described her death as a "hammer blow"

Her severely injured body was found when Hutchinson rang the emergency services on Boxing Day. They also found a pregnancy test kit nearby.

DNA testing later proved the unborn child was Hutchinson's.

He was arrested the following morning asleep in Miss Woodman's car.

He told officers her denials of infidelity had enraged him.

"People just snap, you know what I mean," he said.

Image caption Miss Woodman's badly injured body was found at her home on Boxing Day

The judge said Miss Woodman had been a good woman who had fallen in love with a bad man.

"You sponged off her and she loved you to the bitter end.

"The attack was frenzied, it was cruel, it was with a ferocity that defies belief even in the hardened experience of this court."

"You say it took an hour. It must have been a nightmare and a lifetime for Nicola and she must have known what was happening."

Miss Woodman's family said her death had been a "hammer blow" and had left a "massive hole" in their lives.

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