THE MAN who killed his girlfriend in a 'sadistic' murder will serve a minimum of 24 years of his life sentence, a judge has ruled.
Joe Storey, 27, of Murrells Court in Norwich, was sentenced at Norwich Crown Court yesterday, June 19, for the murder of Irish mother-of-two, Kerri McAuley.
Kerri McAuley, 32 and a mother of two young sons, was found dead at a property in Southalls Way in Norwich, on January 8 this year.
Her mother and brother found her after her former partner could not make contact with her to return their two sons.
The court had previously heard how Ms McAuley, who moved to Norwich in 1995 aged nine and whose father hails from Larne in Co. Antrim, was subjected to a severe blunt force trauma assault.
A Home Office post mortem found that Ms McAuley had suffered 19 separate injuries to her face.
Every bone in her face including fractured eye sockets, cheek bones and jaw, were broken following a “brutal, vicious and sustained attack.”
While he had previously denied murder but admitted manslaughter, a jury of seven men and five women took less than an hour to find Storey guilty of murder last Thursday, June 15.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum prison term of 24 years before he is eligible for parole.
Jailing Storey, Judge Stephen Holt described it as “one of the worst cases of domestic violence that have come before these courts."
Simon Spence QC, prosecuting, said Storey had shown a “history of violence” towards Ms McAuley as well as “other women he has been in a relationship with", according to Norwich Evening News.
'Sadistic' killer said 'I'll never kill you, will I.'
The court heard Storey had been the subject of four restraining orders against previous partners, including Ms McAuley.
He had been the subject of an order preventing him from contacting Ms McAuley in October last year - less than three months before her death.
Storey, who has four previous convictions covering 11 offences, had been jailed for offences against previous partners.
He was jailed for four years in 2011 for two offences of assault occasioning actual bodily harm against two previous partners including one who was thought to be pregnant, who he repeatedly kicked and punched in the stomach stating he “hoped he had killed the unborn baby."
The court also heard of another conviction for wounding on another previous partner who had a knife held to her throat by Storey during an argument in which she was also punched to the head and headbutted.
Mr Spence said the degree of violence used by Storey against Ms McAuley could be seen to be “sadistic."
During the trial, a catalogue of text messages between the former couple, who met on Facebook in 2015, detailed violent assaults Storey committed against Ms McAuley.
In one exchange, Ms McAuley said Storey had suffocated her while beating her for the second time in just a couple of months.
She said: “What do you think is going through my head while you’re suffocating me with your hands?”
During the exchanges Storey insists he is “so, so sorry” for occasions he had “Just flipped” and “lost it.”
One message from Storey read: ““I just flipped and lost it. I will never kill you, will I.”
Prosecco and cocaine
The court also heard during the trial that in the hours after her death on the morning of January 8, Storey called his friend Kristina Brighten, and was ‘crying and hysterical’ while on the phone.
Storey later asked the Ms Brighten if he could come to her apartment, where he then proceeded to drink prosecco and take cocaine.
Ms Brighten said the pair went to Ms McAuley’s flat later that morning between 10am and 11am on January 8 and she waited in the car while Storey had gone into the flat.
When he came back five minutes later Storey said Ms McAuley was not there.
The court heard Ms McAuley’s body was discovered late on Sunday night by her brother and mother who had gone round after her former partner had been unable to contact Ms McAuley to drop off their two children.
'She will forever be loved'
Paying tribute to Kerri, her mother, Lesley McAuley, said: “Kerri was full of such a love of life; a sociable, fun loving girl with a heart of gold who was a loyal friend and who touched the lives of so many people.
“She had so many different groups of friends and I draw strength from the knowledge that Kerri’s memory lives on with them, and from the support that they have given in the days, weeks and months following Kerri’s murder.
“This has meant a lot to me and my family.
“Above everything else, Kerri worshiped her children and lived for them. Everything she ever did was to give her sons a good and happy life and I take comfort from seeing them now, knowing how proud she would be of the young men that they are to become – a shining testament to the mother that she was to them.
“Though this comfort is bittersweet, it hurts me deeply to know that never again will Kerri and I watch together as they perform in school plays.
“She will never get to be proud of their successes nor be there to cuddle them when they are sad. It is such a waste of a beautiful soul so cruelly and heartlessly taken.
“My life will never now be whole without Kerri to complete it, as a family we are forever broken.
“My heart bears the deepest break from which it will never heal.
“She had so much to live for, so much unfulfilled promise. I will forever remember Kerri for the woman that she was but I will always wonder about the woman she was to become.
“Any sentence that is passed will never be enough, the years simply don’t matter.
“It will never make up for what he has so brutally and cruelly taken from us. Kerri will never be forgotten. She will be forever loved.”