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Killer jailed for 32-years for murdering two women

Alan Bennett
Alan Bennett

A man who murdered his partner and then minutes later stabbed the mother of his three children to death told police when he was arrested "I have done what had to be done".

Alan Bennett, 34, will serve at least 32 years and 233 days behind bars after he admitted murdering Lynne Freeman, 46, and Jodie Betteridge, 30, in Redcar.

He stabbed Ms Betteridge 132 times, some of which was seen by their children who were just four, six and nine, and one witness said he looked like a "crazed maniac".

A friend of Ms Freeman who saw them out together earlier on March 23 saw him push her over and, drunk and angry, say he had "lost my kids" and claim he was not allowed to see them.

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton sentenced Bennett to two life sentences at Teesside Crown Court and told him both his victims were vulnerable.

A significant aggravating factor was that he killed his children's mother as they watched in horror, the judge said.

Social services and the courts had decided that Bennett, who had a history of domestic abuse with both women, should not have unsupervised contact with his children because of his personality.

He thought Ms Betteridge was a "bad parent", never considering it was he who had the problem, the judge said.

He told Bennett: "You are a violent individual, you are a man with a quick temper, a man who always expects to get his own way. That becomes worse when you are in drink."

Bennett and Ms Freeman, a mother and grandmother, had been out in Redcar on March 23 and were drunk when a friend of hers saw him push her over.

When the friend intervened, he grabbed her lapel and said: "You don't know what's f****** happened. I've lost my kids, I'm not allowed to see them. I'll f****** kill her."

The couple sat on opposite sides of the bus on the way home, the court heard.

Jodie Betteridge and Lynne Freeman

Bennett was heard to made threats to Ms Freeman, telling her: "I will get your attention when we are home."

Once there, he inflicted four stab wounds to her neck and nine other sharp force injuries to the neck and chest.

His defenceless victim was first attacked on the sofa and then on the floor.

He fled, leaving a bloodstain on the door, and, while on the way to his ex-partner's home less than a mile away, he made an emotionless 999 call to say Ms Freeman needed emergency care.

Bennett then started the "ferocious" assault inside Ms Betteridge's home, and continued it in the front garden as she tried to flee.

Andrew Robertson QC, prosecuting, said 30 injuries of the 132 wounds were to the head and Ms Betteridge would have been significantly disfigured if she had lived.

The knife used to kill both women snapped during the second murder.

Mr Robertson said: "The next-door neighbours heard screaming and shouting. They looked out and saw the defendant strike the deceased in the front garden.

"The children of the defendant and the deceased were standing and screaming near their mother."

A neighbour said later: "The defendant was constantly stabbing Jodie like a crazed maniac."

Police arrived quickly and Bennett told officers: "I have done what had to be done."

He later told detectives he could not remember killing either woman.

He had previous convictions for attacking someone with a bottle in 2002 and battery in 2012.

Tim Roberts QC, defending, said his client had pleaded guilty 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 Bourne-Arton said Bennett had sent him a letter "full of self-pity" claiming to still love both women, and that he had made a "monumental mistake".

But the judge said: "There was no mistake about it, it was quite deliberate by you."

As Bennett was led away, a grieving relative in the public gallery shouted: "I hope you rot."