A 45-YEAR-OLD man has been sentenced to life in prison after the “callous and cruel” murder of his partner.
Malcolm Cromie was told he must spend a minimum of 18 years behind bars for the fatal stabbing of Mahala Rhodes in West Yorkshire before he will be considered for parole.
Sentencing the killer, Judge Peter Benson described Cromie, Cromie, of Rooley Heights, Halifax, as “manipulative and controlling”.
He told the court how Cromie had told Miss Rhodes’ 19-year-old son, Connor Stephenson, he was “wasting his time” as he tried to save his mother.
Judge Benson said: “You callously and purposefully took the life of a loving and caring mother.”
Judge Benson described Miss Rhodes and Cromie’s relationship as “volatile” that involved a “number of disagreements and violence”.
He said: “When giving evidence Connor - who was a very impressive young man - said you were the cause of the arguments but accepted that his mother would sometimes start them also.”
Judge Benson told Bradford Crown Court, West Yorks., that he believed Cromie was suffering from paranoia and was obsessed with the idea that Mahala was sleeping with drug dealers and that she was plotting against him.
Judge Benson said: “No one accepted that this was the case.
“As time wore on you were determined to get full control of the daughter you shared with Miss Rhodes and in addition to making these wicked allegations you also threatened to kill her to a number of people.”
On the day of Miss Rhodes’ murder, Judge Benson told the court that she had been in happy mood because she had a new phone and had been surfing the Internet looking for new fabrics and furnishings.
Judge Benson said: “Miss Rhodes came off the internet at 5:45pm and four minutes later you had fatally stabbed her.
“You then stabbed yourself five times in the chest and abdomen.
“You claim wholly falsely that Miss Rhodes picked up the knife and threatened you with it and tried to stab you in the torso.
“In my view she did no such thing and in my opinion you inflicted the wounds on yourself.”
Referring to an impact statement made by Miss Rhodes’ mother, Angela Scott, Judge Benson described the victim as a “loving and caring mother” who can “never be replaced”.
Judge Benson said: “She has worked hard in difficult circumstances to bring up her children and if Connor is anything to go by - who gave his evidence in an intelligent and dignified way - she had done a good job.
“No sentence will in any way compensate Miss Rhodes’ family for the impact of their loss and I extend my deepest sympathies to them.”
In a statement released by her family, Miss Rhodes, of Sowerby Bridge, near Halifax, was described as a “loving and caring mother, daughter, sister, cousin and friend” who was “greatly loved”.
The statement said: “We are all devastated by the loss of Mahala and miss her deeply.
“Four children should not have to live their lives without their mother being there for Christmases, birthdays and holidays.
“Their futures together have been cruelly taken away by an act of wickedness and, as a family, we have suffered greatly and will continue to suffer for the rest of our lives.”
Speaking about the case, Detective Inspector Paul Conroy from West Yorkshire Police said: “Mahala’s whole family have been tremendously affected by her death.
“I hope that with the conclusion of the trial and the life sentence given to Cromie, this will now allow them to have some closure and begin the grieving process.”