Sunday 19 November 2017

Irish murderer knifed his lesbian victim as she lay dying because of her 'sex or sexuality'

Guilty: Michael Purcell was convicted of murder and burglary at the Old Bailey. Picture: Met Police
Guilty: Michael Purcell was convicted of murder and burglary at the Old Bailey. Picture: Met Police
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

An Irishman who stabbed his landlady to death in a botched burglary could die behind bars after being jailed for life for murder.

Steelworker Michael Purcell (53) was jailed at the Old Bailey today for the murder of Imelda Molina at the flat they had shared for nearly five years in London.

He is originally from Tipperary but has been living in the UK for some years. He was sentenced to life in prison for the murder with a minimum of 23 years.

He will also serve a concurrent sentence of 42 months for the burglary.

The court heard that Purcell armed himself with a kitchen knife before breaking into a bedroom that she shared with her partner, Amalia Valdez, on October 29 last year, and drove the blade into her back.

He then stabbed her repeatedly between the legs as she lay dead or dying, before fleeing with £1000 (€1,314) in cash which had been stashed in the wardrobe. She suffered 48 knife wounds.

Ms Valdez had been bringing home pizza for dinner when she discovered her partner's body, stripped naked from the waist down with stab wounds to the groin, legs, and torso.

At the Old Bailey this morning, Judge Wendy Joseph QC sentenced Purcell to life in prison, and ordered that he spend at least 23 years behind bars.

Bernard Richmond QC, defending, said Purcell, a heavy drinker for many years, "sees this as being essentially a drawn-out death sentence".

He said Purcell told him repeatedly during the trial: "A very nice lady lost her life and it's right that I lose mine".

Ms Valdez told the court Purcell, who owed £8,000 (€10,515) to the taxman and had been behind on his rent.

When officers came to arrest Purcell, he was lying on his blood-soaked bed at the flat in Ashford Court, having slashed his throat and wrists with a Stanley knife.

He told paramedics: ”I killed the woman next door, I just want to die. I don’t know what came over me because she was such a lovely lady.”

Purcell had also penned a confession in his notebook, titled: “Dying declaration.”

Judge Joseph said: "The fact of her death is terrible. No less terrible will be the lasting effect on those who loved her and those who depended on her."

She added that the stabs to the groin must have been related to her gender or her sexuality.

“It is impossible to interpret your decision to carry out this later attack as anything other than an attack made in reference to her sex or sexual orientation which you knew to be lesbian.”

Ms Molina's sister said she had come to the UK to work as a housekeeper to support her impoverished family back in the Philippines, and harboured dreams of setting up a children's charity.

"When her visa was granted to come to the UK, Imelda was over the moon - she thought she was taking one step closer to get dreams, but instead they have all been shattered", she said.

"What's left is suffering, trauma, stress, fear and heartbreak for the whole family."

Purcell denied murder but was found guilty by a jury at the end of an 11-day trial. He was also convicted of burglary.

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