Tees

Redcar women's killings: Alan Bennett admits murder charges

Lynne Freeman, left and Jodie Betteridge Image copyright Family photographs
Image caption Lynne Freeman, left, and Jodie Betteridge died within minutes of each other

A man has been jailed for at least 32 years after murdering his current and former partners, in separate attacks one straight after the other. Alan Bennett, of Redcar, already had a history of violence and was involved in public arguments and altercations on the day of the killings.

Within seven short minutes on a spring Wednesday evening, Alan Bennett stabbed to death his girlfriend before going on to kill his ex-partner in front of their three children.

The 34-year-old knifed Lynne Freeman in the neck and body and before launching his fatal attack on Jodie Betteridge, leaving her with injuries to her legs, body, arms, face and neck.

Within that brief time on 23 March, Bennett had also found time to call the emergency services himself, at 20:45 GMT.

His partner had been stabbed and an ambulance was needed at her home on Mapleton Crescent, Redcar, he told the call handler.

Minutes later police were called again, though this time not by Bennett.

The second caller said the killer was assaulting 30-year-old Ms Betteridge on a grassed area outside her Ryland Close home.

Watching the attack were her three young children, aged just four, six and nine.

Live updates on Alan Bennett's appearance in court

Image copyright Cleveland Police
Image caption Alan Bennett called 999 from Mrs Freeman's house before going on to stab Ms Betteridge

Other bystanders had called the police and shouted at Bennett to stop but no-one had tried to intervene because he had a knife.

In the emergency call after he killed Ms Freeman, he had given no indication he was going to attack anyone else and, because it was so quick, officers were not able to prevent the second killing, Cleveland Police said.

He was "compliant" as he was arrested at the scene, they said.

Three days later Bennett, from Lingholme in Redcar, was charged with both murders. He told officers: "I have done what had to be done."

Image caption Jodie Betteridge's children - aged four, six and nine - watched as she was attacked

Ms Freeman had volunteered with the Redcar Beacons "street angels" project, which tries to make sure the town's revellers stay safe.

Project manager Anne Connelly said her death was a "great shock".

"You don't expect to lose somebody that young - we all miss her," she said.

Ms Freeman was "very chatty" and well known. Already familiar with many of the door staff, she helped teach the group how to approach people out on the town.

"Lynne was always very enthusiastic, she'd volunteer for everything and anything and, straight away, she said, yeah, I'll do that," Ms Connelly says.

"We're all unique but Lynne was so easy to love, she was just that kind of a person."

Image caption Lynne Freeman volunteered with Redcar Beacons "street pastors" who try to keep revellers safe

Bennett and Ms Betteridge had split up in late 2014 after nine years together. All three of their children stayed with their mother.

Early the following year, Bennett started seeing Ms Freeman, 46, who he already knew. They did not live together but often stayed over at each other's houses.

Police said that, similarly to his time with Ms Betteridge, Bennett's relationship with Ms Freeman was troubled by domestic incidents.

Image caption Lynne Freeman was stabbed to death in her home in Redcar

Bennett also had previous convictions for violent offences, but was not particularly well known to officers, the Cleveland force said.

On the day she died, Ms Freeman spent several hours with her killer, drinking in pubs in Redcar town centre - hours that were tinged with increasing anger.

The couple had already been involved in a couple of altercations when, on the bus home, they had what witnesses described as a "domestic argument".

Bennett raised his voice. He was heard telling Ms Freeman: "Wait until I get you home, I'll get your attention."

The row carried on in the street as they made their way to Ms Freeman's home. Within half an hour, she was dead.

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