A soldier preparing to serve in Afghanistan stabbed his ex-girlfriend to death after he hacked into her Facebook account to find she had aborted their unborn baby, a jury was told today.
Lance Corporal Ian Lowe, 25, kicked down the door to Leanne McNuff’s home in Droylsden, Greater Manchester, before repeatedly knifing her, stamping on her face and leaving her to die on her landing floor on March 11 this year, a court heard.
Miss McNuff’s mother Margaret tried to save her daughter by stemming the flow of blood, but she died in hospital.
Lowe, who was on bail at the time for allegedly trying to throttle Miss McNuff while she was still pregnant, had posted messages on Facebook shortly before the killing, the hearing was told.
One read: ‘Not even the army will help me out after all I have done for Queen and country.’ Another stated: ‘Need a weapon out of armoury to shoot the bitch’.
Manchester Crown Court heard that the couple had been dating since 2006, but split up a month before the killing.
After the break-up, Lowe warned Miss McNuff that he would ‘make her life hell’, the hearing was told.
On Valentine’s Day, Miss McNuff learned that she was pregnant with Lowe’s baby and she rang him at his barracks in Catterick, North Yorkshire, where he was serving in 1st Battalion, the Duke of Lancaster Regiment.
‘She made it clear that, although she didn’t want to resume a relationship with him, she would not prevent him from seeing the baby when it was born,’ Neil Flewitt, prosecuting, told the jury.
‘The defendant responded saying, if they could not live together as a family, his life wouldn’t be worth living and he would commit suicide.’
Lowe was allowed home from base on compassionate grounds and, on arriving in Manchester, begged Miss McNuff to take him back.
She agreed but said she ‘wouldn’t kiss or cuddle him’ because she ‘no longer had feelings for him’.
The court heard that, when the pair met at Miss McNuff’s home to discuss the pregnancy on February 18, a violent row broke out during which Lowe called Miss McNuff a ‘prostitute’ and accused her of ‘sleeping around’.
As Miss McNuff tried to force him out of the house, Lowe is said to have grabbed her by the thoat and begun ‘shaking her from side to side’.
In a statement given to police at the time, Miss McNuff recalled: ‘He’s shaking me from side to side and I’m almost on the floor.
‘I’ve lost my footing but being held up by Ian gripping my clothing and he’s shaking me about.
‘Somehow, whilst he’s still ragging me about, I’ve twisted and he’s got hold of my hair.
‘Now he’s got a grip of my clothing and a grip of my hair and he’s still shaking me about.
Break up: Leanne McNuff and Lowe had been dating since 2006 but broke up a month before the killing in March this year
‘At some point he’s let go of my jumper and his left arm has come around my throat choking me and making it hard to breathe for a few seconds. I was frightened to death.
‘I didn’t know what was going to happen. I was scared wither he’d really hurt me or I’d lose the baby.
‘Then Ian’s released me and pushed me to the floor. He’s gone to kick me.
‘At first I think he was going to kick me hard but he held back and it wasn’t a very hard kick in my back.
‘Then he’s picked up his bag and ran out of the gate.’
Lowe was later arrested and charged with assault and was ordered not to contact Leanne under his bail conditions.
But the court heard that, only an hour later, Miss McNuff rang police again to claim that Lowe had called her.
The next day, February 20, Miss McNuff went in secret to an abortion clinic for a consultation.
She terminated the unborn baby on March 1.
Lowe found out about the abortion on March 10 – the day before the killing – when he hacked into Leanne’s Facebook account, the court heard.
He wrote on his page: ‘She tries to ruin my career, not only are you a benefit thief you are an oxygen thief as well’.
A day later, he wrote: ‘Just to let everyone know Leanne had aborted the baby.
‘She did not tell me or even given me a say in the matter’.
The court heard that Lowe then hacked Miss McNuff’s Facebook account, falsely claiming she had slept with members of her own family.
That evening, Lowe went for a drink with his father and a family friend who said he ‘looked as if he had the weight of the world on his shoulders’.
He is alleged to have killed Miss McNuff hours later.
Lowe denies murder. The trial continues.