Tees

Alan Bennett admits murdering two Redcar women

Alan Bennett Image copyright Cleveland Police
Image caption Alan Bennett admitted murdering two women

A man who murdered his partner and an ex-girlfriend within minutes of each other has been given two life sentences and jailed for at least 32 years.

Alan Bennett, 34, killed Lynne Freeman, 46, before stabbing Jodie Betteridge 132 times in front of their three children in Redcar on 23 March.

Bennett, of Lingholme, Redcar, admitted both murders when he appeared at Teesside Crown Court.

When arrested, he said: "I have done what had to be done."

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Double killer had history of violence

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

Bennett and Ms Freeman had been out drinking together in several pubs in Redcar town centre on the day of the attacks.

Witnesses reported them arguing on the bus home with Bennett raising his voice several times.

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

At about 20:45 Bennett called the police to Ms Freeman's home on Mapleton Crescent where they found her with 13 stab wounds to her neck and chest.

Seven minutes later, Ms Betteridge, 30, who had been in a relationship with Bennett from 2005 to 2014, was attacked at her home on Byland Close, first inside the house then in the garden.

'Crazed maniac'

She suffered injuries to her legs, arms, face, neck and torso with the killing witnessed by their three young children.

Thirty of the blows were to her head and, had she survived, she would have been left significantly disfigured.

The knife, which was used for both attacks, snapped during the murder of Ms Betteridge.

Neighbours were shouting and screaming during the attack and described Bennett as being like a "crazed maniac".

Bennett was arrested at the scene and told police: "I have done what had to be done."

Image caption Alan Bennett killed Lynne Freeman at her home in Mapleton Crescent before murdering Jodie Betteridge on a grass area at Byland Close seven minutes later

Bennett started a relationship in early 2015 with Ms Freeman but had known her before then.

While they did not live with each other, they did spend a lot of time in each other's company, often staying over at their respective addresses.

Cleveland Police said domestic incidents involving Bennett and both women had previously been reported.

Tim Roberts QC, defending, said his client had pleaded guilty to the murders at the first reasonable opportunity.

Bennett had a mental illness, he said, but it was not severe enough to allow him to claim a defence of diminished responsibility.

Mr Roberts added: "He has not had the normal capacity of self-restraint which a healthy individual would possess."

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton said Bennett had sent him a "self-pitying" letter in which he claimed he still loved both women and had made a "monumental mistake".

However, he told Bennett: "There was no mistake about it, it was quite deliberate by you."

He sentenced him to two life sentences and said he must serve a minimum term of 32 years and 233 days before he will be considered eligible for parole.

'Cold-blooded killing'

After the sentencing, Det Sgt Peter Carr from Cleveland Police said: "Without doubt Bennett acted in cold blood as he attacked both Lynne and Jodie, his phone call to police as he walked away from the fatal attack on Lynne is particularly chilling and detached.

"Emergency services arrived to a scene of unprecedented horror."

A statement from Ms Betteridge's family said: "Jodie was kind to everyone; she lived for her children as they were the most important people in her life and now she won't be able to see them grow up. Jodie will never be forgotten and will be greatly missed by all who knew her."

Ms Freeman's family said: "Someone who she loved, trusted and was meant to feel protected by took everything from her, her life, everything she had to look forward to, everyone she selflessly helped and we have been deprived of sharing her life with her.

"The sentencing is a fraction of what he actually deserves; jail will never be good enough for what he has done."

"The person who lit up a room as she walked in, the loving way she helped others and in return expected nothing, her infectious laugh and personality, the amazing person who selflessly volunteered to give back into the community, is the person she should be remembered for- and not the events that took place that night."

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