A football coach who stabbed his model girlfriend to death in a frenzied knife attack was jailed for a minimum of 24 years last night after being convicted of her murder.
Amy Leigh Barnes, 19, was left dying in a pool of her own blood after being repeatedly stabbed in the face and chest by Ricardo Morrison, 22.
Last night, as it emerged that Morrison had a history of violence against women, Amy’s distraught father called for the death penalty to be re-introduced in the UK for violent murders.
Andrew Barnes, 41, a company director who runs a tyre company, said: ‘British justice is a farce.
‘I believe in the death penalty–an eye for an eye. He stared right at me in court and it is a good job he was in a glass cage.’
Her mother Karyn Killiner, 41, an art teacher, said: ‘It does not matter how many years in prison he gets, it will never be enough.’
Last night it emerged Morrison, whose mother Melda Wilks is a serving police officer, had a history of violence against women.
Not only had Amy complained he had hit her and even held a knife to her throat, Morrison also had four previous convictions for assault and one for harassment for a string of attacks on an ex-girlfriend including an assault when he bit her on the face.
The jury also had no idea Morrison was also facing trial after being accused of beating up five women in an argument over a private booth at London’s Zebranos nightclub on Amy’s 19th birthday night.
In the weeks before her murder, Amy texted her friends to say she feared for her life at the hands of her boyfriend.
In one text she said: ‘For the past seven months Ric’s been hitting me, locking me in rooms with him so I can’t get out.
‘Putting knives to my throat telling me he’s going to kill me, putting pillows over my face, covering my nose and mouth with his hands and just staring at me while I’m struggling to breathe. Says if I leave him he’ll kill me and himself.’
Manchester Crown Court was told privately-educated Amy, of Bolton, Greater Manchester modelled for glamour magazines and had appeared in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks.
It led to her being dubbed a wannabe’ WAG’ by those who knew her because she aspired to the glitzy ‘Footballers’ Wives’ lifestyle.
She was friends with Blackburn striker Benni McCarthy, 30, and her former boyfriends included Manchester United defender Danny Simpson, 22, Liverpool forward Nathan Eccleston, 19, and Stoke City defender Ibrahima Sonko.
Early in 2008 Amy began a relationship with Morrison after meeting him through the social networking site, Facebook.
But the relationship was turbulent and the following November, Amy–who was living with the football coach at her grandmother’s house–decided to leave Morrison for good.
On the morning of November 8, her grandmother left the house for work, leaving the young couple alone in the house.
Morrison then attacked Miss Barnes, punching her, spraying an aerosol in her face and slamming a door on her arm before leaving and locking her in the house.
The court heard the row continued by text message with Amy calling him a ‘wife beater’ and telling him the relationship was over.
She phoned her mother and pleaded with her to come and get her vowing that she would not be controlled by him anymore.
Mrs Killiner called her ex-husband and he made his way round to the terraced house but before she got there Morrison returned, picked up the knife from a block in the kitchen and launched the attack.
Amy’s face was slashed open from the corner of her mouth to her right ear and she was stabbed with ‘severe force’ all over her body.
She was the left for dead but managed to dial 999 and tell the operator: ‘I’m dying. He’s stabbed me to death. I’m dying. Please help me.’
Shortly after the attack, her father, Mr Barnes, arrived to find his daughter curled in the foetal position, drifting in and out of consciousness.
Mr Barnes, who split from Amy’s mother several years ago, said: ‘Walking through the door was the hardest day of my life. No-one should have to see that, not their little girl.
‘Since then it has been a living nightmare. I just think if I had been 10 minutes earlier this might not have happened.
‘When the doctors told me Amy had died I felt like someone put their hand in my chest and ripped my heart out.’
Her mother said: ‘As soon as I got to the hospital I ran in and I could hear Amy screaming, I knew it was my child. I said I need to see my daughter but they were frightened of me seeing her. Nothing prepared me for what I saw.
‘Her injuries were horrific and what he had done to Amy’s beautiful face–I knew that was to completely disfigure her.
‘She could not have lived with those injuries. I tried to touch her and stroke her and she was screaming so much. I turned to the medical staff and asked: “Is she going to be OK?”
‘I said “Please do not let her die” but he just shook his head. They took Amy to theatre and just before they gave her the injection to sedate her she screamed “I want to die” and that was the last thing she said. I knew that’s what she wanted because I knew she could not take it anymore.’
Mrs Killiner said: ‘He was a conman and he integrated himself in our family. He was charming and said how much he loves you.
‘But the other side of him is controlling and he had complete power over Amy and all her actions. He is an absolute monster and no language can describe him.’
Morrison fled back to his home in Birmingham and to his mother Melda Wilks, 50, a serving police officer, claiming he had not touched Amy.
Mrs Wilks allowed her son to wash his bloodstained clothes and was later charged with assisting an offender. She was cleared of all charges yesterday.
Jailing Morrison for life with a minimum term of 24 years at Manchester Crown Court, Judge Alaistair Macduff told him: ‘You are an evil man with nothing to commend you and have a history of abusing and assaulting women.
Her father John, who found her dying in a pool of blood, and stepmother Dawn Halton were in court yesterday to hear the verdict
‘You are controlling and you do not like to be crossed. You do not take no for an answer. You controlled Amy for many months and subjected her to a campaign of prolonged physical emotional and psychological abuse.
‘Sadly there’s part of her who could not not believe you were all bad. You are the worst type of bully who will hit or injure anyone who gets in his way–particularly women with whom you are in relationship with.
‘No one who ever listened to that 999 call will ever be able to forget it or forget the wickedness of your attack. You slashed open her pretty face–what went through her mind was unimaginable.
‘When I first read the impact statement of Amy’s mother I found tears welling up in me. Amy was trapped and defenceless your attack was brutal and violent–almost beyond imagination. You are dangerous beyond words–there needs to be a sea change before you can be considered for release.’
His mother Melda Wilks, 50, was cleared of assisting an offender–but faces an internal disciplinary inquiry by her force, West Midlands Police.
Ricardo Morrison , who was once offered a professional football contract, swaggered into court every day wearing a waistcoat and diamond stud earrings, often adjusting his tie as he listened emotionless to the evidence of how he killed his girlfriend.
He first met Amy Leigh Barnes on Facebook, and she enjoyed going to nightclubs frequented by footballers.
In fact a professional football contract from Birmingham City had been on the table for Morrison, then aged 17, but was suddenly withdrawn, sources say due to his ‘terrible attitude’.
After the club released him in 2003 he dropped down the leagues but made no further impression, though he did coach children for a time.
Despite his mother being a well-respected community police officer, on his own MySpace profile Morrison boasted his heritage was ‘Yardy’ (sic), his favourite films the violent gangster movies Goodfellas, Scarface and The Godfather.
He dressed ‘trendy and classy’, wanted to ‘achieve’ and to be his own boss, and listed his one weakness as women.
In February 2005 he was convicted of assault after he locked his then girlfriend in a car grabbed her by the throat and bit her on the face–puncturing her skin.
In fact his mother handed him into the police on that occasion and he received a police caution.
But six months later there was another row. His girlfriend asked him to leave so he slapped and punched her and was given a community order for common assault at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court.
Two months later he attacked her again. Again he bit her on the face, punched her and put his hand over her mouth.
Police were called. While officers were talking to his victim, Morrison sent a text to her saying: ‘Hope you die of cancer just like your dad.’
Officers found him hiding in her shed. He was convicted of two assaults and harassment and given a community order, and a restraining order which he later broke.
Miss Barnes, who began dating Morrison in February 2008, would later tell friends of attacks with chilling similarities–locking her in rooms, punching her and putting his hands over her mouth so she could not breath.
Morrison, who described himself as a ‘woman pleaser’, liked to give the impression of a successful young businessman, quiet spoken and self-assured.
‘In my eyes, I think I have done well. I’m 22 and own two flats,’ he told the jury.
Morrison had bought two city-centre apartments in Birmingham, claiming to have £600,000 in equity.
In fact he was a ‘phoney’–mortgaged to the hilt and being chased by his bank. At the time he killed Amy the couple were living on a fold-up bed in the back bedroom of her grandmother’s two-up, two-down terrace house in Bolton.
Stuart Driver, prosecuting, told the jury the defendant is a ‘profoundly two-faced man’ and when he has a ‘little woman’ before him, a bully.
Three weeks before Morrison stabbed Amy to death the couple were out in Zebrano nightclub in London’s Soho to celebrate Amy’s 19th birthday.
He stood blocking the way of a private booth being used by a party of five young women aged between 19 and 22.
When they asked him to move he punched two of the girls in the face and head butted another. He may also have used a bottle.
The attack was caught on CCTV but following his conviction for murder it may not now go to court.
[Editor’s Note: An earlier story about the murder of Amy Leigh Barnes can be read here.]
|Ricardo Morrison, left; Amy Leigh Barnes (right).|