A MAN who murdered the mother of his three young children in a "savage and prolonged" knife attack in the back of a taxi has been jailed for life.
Junior Saleem Oakes, who killed Natasha Trevis five days after a social worker "let slip" that she had aborted a fourth child, was ordered to serve at least 22 years before being considered for parole.
Birmingham Crown Court heard that Oakes, 28, of Dimsdale Road, Northfield, stabbed his victim a total of 26 times in the head, face, neck, chest, back and legs in the city last August.
Oakes had been due stand trial for the murder of Miss Trevis, who was 22 and just 5ft 1in, but pleaded guilty to the charge before a jury was sworn in.
Sentencing Oakes, Judge William Davis QC described the killing in Northfield as an "act of savagery" which had robbed three children under the age of four of their mother.
The judge said of the killing, which was witnessed by the taxi's driver and other members of the public: "All of (your children) will grow up knowing that their father killed their mother.
"She was a good young mother, a mother to three young children aged three, two and one."
Judge Davis told Oakes: "By your savage attack on her, you have taken her away from both her children and indeed her mother.
"I described the attack as savage because you inflicted 26 separate wounds with a knife - many of them required severe force, and many of them were inflicted from behind.
"This young woman was either turning her back on you or trying to escape. She did escape from the taxi but you chased her and continued the attack even as she tried desperately to save herself."
Opening the facts of the case, prosecutor David Matthew said the murder was committed on the morning of Oakes's 28th birthday as the taxi headed towards the victim's mother's home.
Before sentence was passed, the court heard that Oakes made a comment while on remand claiming to have "killed his missus because she had killed one of their kids".
Oakes, who is illiterate and has a record of domestic violence, was cautioned for assaulting a previous girlfriend when he was 19.
He was also cautioned by police in 2004 for possessing a bladed article, as well as being convicted in 2006 of assaulting the new partner of his father's ex-girlfriend.
Miss Trevis met Oakes when she was about 18, and the couple lived at flats in Weoley Castle and Five Ways, Birmingham.
Mr Matthew said social services were involved with the couple and Oakes was no longer residing at the family home by the time of the murder on August 7.
During discussions with social services five days earlier, a social worker mentioned in front of Oakes that Miss Trevis had had a previous pregnancy terminated, a fact of which he was unaware.
Giving an account of the fatal attack, Mr Matthew said the taxi had been called to take Miss Trevis to her mother's home, but Oakes joined her, hoping to get a lift to a different address.
According to eyewitness evidence from the taxi driver, Oakes launched his attack after becoming abusive and refusing to alight from the car.
Quoting the driver's statement, the prosecutor told the court that Oakes had claimed that Miss Trevis was a "disgrace" for aborting his child.
The driver then heard Miss Trevis screaming and shouting "He's stabbing me, he's stabbing me" - before taking off his seatbelt and seeing Miss Trevis being chased outside the vehicle.
In his statement, the driver said: "She had obviously been stabbed - she must have been running on adrenaline."
Oakes, described as having learning difficulties, was then seen "walking" after Miss Trevis towards the taxi, where he again stabbed her, piercing her liver, lungs and heart.
Despite desperate attempts to save her, she was declared dead at the scene.
Oakes was arrested nearby on the evening of August 7.
After his arrest, he initially claimed that his ex-partner had produced the knife and then stabbed herself.
Defence counsel Timothy Raggatt QC said Oakes had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, and it was "doubtful" whether the offence was premeditated.
Speaking after the case, Detective Constable Michelle Ohren, of West Midlands Police, said: "Natasha was a loving and devoted mother to her three children and she had everything to live for.
"She was very close to her family and this has devastated them all."
In a statement issued by police, Natasha's mother Joanne Hewitt paid tribute to her daughter.
"Tasha was my diamond, the star of my life," she said.
"She was beautiful, caring and loved her three children with all her heart.
"When he killed her, he killed me. He has taken a very precious person from our family and broke us in two."
A spokeswoman for Birmingham City Council's social services said: "We do not comment on individual cases."