‘Evil monster’ who murdered ex-girlfriend’s partner in a crowded travel agency jailed for 26 years

Andrew Burke, left, killed Cassie Hayes, far right, the partner of his former girlfriend Laura Williams, centre (Pictures: PA)

A man who carried out the “cold-blooded execution” of a travel agent after she began a relationship with his ex-girlfriend has been jailed for a minimum of 26 years.

Andrew Burke, 31, slit the throat of Cassie Hayes, 28, in front of horrified staff and shoppers at a Tui branch in Southport where she worked in January.

After he was sentenced on Monday at Liverpool Crown Court, Ms Hayes’s mother said he was an “evil monster” who should “rot in hell”.

Burke committed what the judge called an “act of unspeakable savagery” a day after he had been convicted of harassing his ex-partner Laura Williams, 29.

Burke had also been harassing Ms Hayes for months after she started dating his ex-partner, blaming her for the end of his relationship.

Cassie Hayes, left, with her mother Tracy, centre, and sister Nadine, right (Picture: PA)
Burke has been jailed for a minimum of 26 years (Picture: PA)

Her mother Tracy Hayes, supported arm-in-arm by her daughter Nadine, read out a personal statement from the witness box.

She said: “You took the most precious gift I ever had in my life, my beautiful daughter, my baby, in the most horrific way ever.

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“You are the most evil, evil monster walking on this whole earth. You do not deserve to breathe fresh air.

“You are a sick, disturbed man and you do not deserve to walk the streets again. You should spend the rest of your life behind bars.

“I just want my baby back and I hope you rot in hell you evil, evil coward of a man.”

Police were aware of his campaign against Ms Hayes and in May 2017 he was issued with a police information notice warning him over any future contact.

But Burke ignored the warning and went to the Tui branch on a busy Saturday afternoon to attack Ms Hayes, who had been serving a family.

Stunned shoppers looked on as emergency services, including two air ambulances, rushed to the scene in a bid to save Ms Hayes but she died later in hospital. Cause of death was shock and haemorrhaging as a result of the wound.

Burke admitted murder when he appeared at Liverpool Crown Court on Monday for a plea hearing.

Tracy Hayes, right, the mother of murdered travel agent Cassie Hayes, at Liverpool Crown Court with family and friends (Picture: PA)

Sentencing him, Judge David Aubrey said: “You perpetrated a cold-blooded execution in public for the purpose of revenge and in my judgment the killing was an act of unspeakable savagery.

“This was a cowardly act of revenge designed to kill and did kill a totally innocent person in broad daylight in front of, and witnessed by, so many.”

Burke, of Vincent Street, St Helens, also pleaded guilty to having an offensive weapon, namely a knife, in a public place.

Gordon Cole QC, prosecuting, said the split between Burke and Ms Williams had caused problems.

Burke was charged with harassing Ms Williams on November 13 last year and was convicted of the offence on January 12, when he appeared at Sefton Magistrates’ Court. He was bailed ahead of sentencing.

Burke was also charged with making malicious communications in January 2017 when his mother, Lousie McConnell, made a statement to police about remarks he had made to her threatening to kill himself or Ms Hayes because he held her responsible for the end of his relationship.

Burke pleaded guilty to that offence and received a fine and an unpaid work requirement.

Mr Cole said Ms Hayes was attending to a family at the front desk when Burke entered with his hood up.

He told a cashier: “I just want to apologise for what I am about to do.”

Burke was then seen to lower his hood before he walked behind Ms Hayes and placed his arms behind her head.

The prosecutor said: “He lifted her head, exposing her neck with his left arm and then ran his right hand across her throat.

Ms Hayes, right, and Ms Williams (Picture: PA)

“It was immediately apparent that there was blood flowing and that Cassie Hayes had had her throat cut.”

Burke remained at the back of the shop and made apologies, saying nobody deserved to see what had happened.

But he was also heard saying remarks to the effect that Ms Hayes “had it coming for her what she had done to his family”, Mr Cole said.

The prosecutor added: “After this ruthless and chilling murder the defendant seemed to remain calm. He showed no emotion and remained seated whilst everybody else was reacting in one way or another to what had happened.”

Police arrived at the scene and found Burke lying on the floor in the centre of the shop with his head towards the door.

The defendant told a firearms officer: “I’m no threat to you, officer. I’ve got nothing else on me. The knife’s on the table.

“Can you tell the family that was in here I’m sorry, I thought I’d waited till there were no kids in there.

“I was in court yesterday and I lost. It was either kill me or kill her, so I killed her.

“The only reason I wasn’t still cutting her when you turned up was cos you’d shoot me and I didn’t want to put you through that.”