A 41-year-old man has been jailed for hacking his estranged wife to death on the street outside their home with a machete.
Craig Woodhall admitted stabbing his wife, 31-year-old Victoria, multiple times in a “brutal and sustained attack” in Barnsley in March that was seen by neighbours and children, Sheffield Crown Court heard.
Police said he pursued the NHS nurse from their home into the street before attacking her with what they described as a “Gurkha-style machete knife”.
He dragged her to the ground and stabbed her repeatedly before walking away, returning twice to continue the violence, South Yorkshire Police’s Detective Inspector Ben Wood said.
The court heard Woodhall, a former soldier, told neighbours who tried to come to Victoria’s aid that “she deserved it” and had been “winding him up” on the day.
Woodhall was sentenced to life with a minimum of 18 years and six months.
The court heard that Victoria had recently left the family home to live with another man as the coronavirus lockdown was brought in.
Judge Jeremy Richardson QC said she likely left her husband because “she had had enough of your controlling and possessive behaviour”.
He heard that the couple married in 2013 but the relationship deteriorated.
“Your conduct may only be characterised as merciless, determined, sustained and savage in the extreme,” the judge said.
“The deceased was defenceless.
“The blows were visited with brute force, bringing the knife down repeatedly from a height on to the body of the deceased. Your wife died rapidly from the acute blood loss.
“It was an unrelenting avalanche of exceptionally serious violence visited upon a defenceless woman.”
DI Wood, speaking before sentencing, said: “Victoria was subjected to a brutal and sustained attack, and there were several people in the immediate vicinity who witnessed this horrifying murder.”
He said officers and medics tried to save Victoria’s life, but her “severe” injuries meant they had to pronounce her dead at the scene.
A post-mortem examination found she died of multiple incised wounds.
DI Wood said: “Victoria’s injuries were significant and extensive – she was stabbed with a Gurkha-style machete knife, which our officers recovered from the scene.
“The violence she suffered was so extreme that she had multiple skull fractures, as well as significant injuries to her head, face, neck, arms, hands, shoulders and back.”
Victoria was an operating department practitioner at the Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, and the trust’s chief nurse Angela Wood said she was “a cherished and much-loved colleague”.
DI Wood added: “This was a horrific attack, I know this incident caused a significant deal of distress within the local community, especially among those residents who witnessed the murder.
“Those eyewitnesses have received support from our partners in Victim Care to process the traumatic impact of this crime.”
Woodhall was arrested about an hour after the attack, when two officers driving in Barnsley were flashed by a car.
He got out of the car and was arrested on suspicion of murder.