A serial domestic abuser who murdered his girlfriend with a single punch has been jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 16 years.
Branded “cowardly and violent” by the judge, Ryan Ingham, 27, ran at mother-of-five Caroline Finigan, 29, “at full speed”, punching her to the head and sending her crashing to the floor after they rowed about how to get home from a night out in Manchester.
The force of the punch broke Ms Finigan’s nose, fractured her eye socket and caused a fatal brain haemorrhage.
She was rushed to hospital in a critical condition, but died hours later.
Ingham, who had 23 previous convictions, including six violent assaults on ex-partners, was found guilty of murder last week at Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester.
He had offered a guilty plea to manslaughter and claimed his girlfriend had drunkenly fallen over, but was convicted of murder by the jury after a week-long trial.
Jailing him for life and ordering he must serve 16 years before parole is considered, Judge Peter Lakin said: “In my judgment you are a deeply unpleasant, cowardly and violent young man with a complete inability to control your temper, particularly after the consumption of alcohol.
“The reason you did this was because, and only because, of a trivial argument about how to get home from Manchester city centre.
“You have on any view a very disturbing history for assaulting your partners.
“Clearly you have no respect whatsoever for the welfare of those who trust you in a relationship.”
The court heard Ingham, from Southdown Crescent, Blackley, Manchester, met Ms Finigan in August last year and they became engaged the following November.
In the early hours of January 16 this year they had been drinking during a night out in Manchester when the row about how to get home developed outside Shudehill bus station in Manchester.
A witness who saw Ingham run at and punch Ms Finigan told the jury it was an act of “wanton thuggery.”
The court heard Ms Finigan had a difficult life and grew up in foster care. Her own children did not live with her but she kept in touch with them and hoped for future happiness with Ingham.
Duncan Thorpe from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said: “Ms Finigan’s family have been left deeply upset and cannot believe someone who claimed to love her could kill her.
“Ingham himself will have to live with the fact his reckless and thoughtless action took the life of an innocent woman.
“GMP takes all reports of domestic abuse seriously. If you’re a friend, family member or neighbour who witnesses signs of domestic abuse, report it to the police.
“Domestic abuse is not acceptable under any circumstances and there are support services available for victims and families from the report to conviction.”
Sacha Cooper, Senior Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service North West, said: “Ryan Ingham carried out a horrific unprovoked attack on his partner in the centre of Manchester after they had enjoyed a night out together.
“He refused to take responsibility for his actions. Initially he fabricated a version of events whereby she had fallen to the floor in a drunken state and later on offered a plea to manslaughter. However, following a trial, the jury convicted him of murder.
“Today Ryan Ingham will face up to the consequences of his mindless actions as he begins his prison sentence.”