A 45-YEAR-OLD man will spend 21 years behind bars for the murder of his girlfriend.
Stephen Hutchinson, of Kilbroney House in east Belfast, was sentenced to 21 years in prison for the murder of 53-year-old Alice Morrow, who was a mother-of-three and grandmother-of-three.
Ms Morrow’s body was found in her flat in Whincroft Way, in the Braniel estate, in March 2019.
She had been in an on-off relationship with Hutchinson for 11 years, and had previously been a victim of domestic abuse at his hands.
Hutchinson, who pleaded guilty to her murder in June of this year, was sentenced at Belfast Crown Court on Friday, October 22.
During the hearing the court heard the level of violence Hutchinson inflicted on his victim on the day she died – where he beat her so badly that she sustained more than 70 injuries to her body.
Following the sentencing, PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Ray Phelan said: “My thoughts today are with Alice’s family and friends.
“Alice, who was a mother of three and a grandmother of three, was subjected to a horrific assault at the hands of her boyfriend, Stephen Hutchinson, which ultimately led to her death.”
He added: “Hutchinson has taken away the love and comfort of a devoted mother and grandmother. He has denied Alice’s three grandchildren the joy of precious memories with their grandmother. He has denied Alice the right to see her grandchildren grow into adulthood.
“Today’s sentencing won’t bring Alice back to her family, but I hope it will bring comfort to them knowing that Stephen Hutchinson is now in prison.”
Detective Chief Inspector Phelan has also urged anyone suffering with domestic abuse to speak out.
“Domestic abuse is a disturbing, and often hidden crime that can affect anyone,” he said.
“I would encourage anyone who has suffered domestic abuse to come forward to police – please do not suffer in silence, speak out.
“We have specially trained officers who will treat you with sensitivity and respect and they will support you throughout the court process.”
He added: “If you are concerned that you or another person may be at risk from domestic abuse - You have the ‘Right to Ask’.”
“Domestic Violence and Abuse Disclosure Scheme (DVADS) gives members of the public a 'Right to Ask', this is a formal mechanism to make enquiries about an individual who you are in a relationship with, or who is in a relationship with someone you know, where there is a concern that the individual may be violent or abusive towards their partner.
“The aim of this scheme is to increase public safety and afford victims of domestic abuse with better protection by enabling potential victims to make an informed choice on whether to continue the relationship - it also provides them with help and support."
Click here for more information on domestic abuse in Northern Ireland.