Man jailed for life for killing stranger in her home while baby slept upstairs

A man has been jailed for life with a minimum of 24 years and two months for killing a stranger in her home as her baby slept upstairs.

Anthony Stinson, 31, attacked Charlotte Wilcock as she sat on the doorstep of her house in Blackburn, just after 9pm on Friday March 3, Lancashire Police said.

Her 15-month-old daughter was upstairs at the time and remained alone in the property until police were alerted the following day.

Charlotte Wilcock
Charlotte Wilcock (Lancashire Constabulary/PA)

A force spokesman said Stinson, who kicked and stamped on 31-year-old Ms Wilcock before inflicting multiple stab and slash wounds, changed his clothing and buried her phone after the attack.

He walked across Blackburn before using a passer-by’s phone to call 999, police said.

During the call, he told the operator: “I’ve literally walked past somebody when they were sat at their doorstep and I thought I seen the Devil so I kicked them in the face and I think they might be… I think I’ve killed them.”

However, detectives found that, less than an hour before the killing, Stinson had been drinking alcohol, taking cocaine and making rap videos with a friend, with lyrics referring to killing somebody.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Haworth-Oates said: “Charlotte had never met Stinson before that night and had no personal connection to him, but, for reasons known only to him, he saw her and launched a ferocious attack on her.

“He slashed at her body numerous times, inflicting well over 50 individual injuries in the process, many with the use of the Stanley knife, as well as punching and kicking her.

“Stinson’s explanation the following day, when he called police to report what he had done, was that he was suffering from psychosis and had thought he was attacking a cartoon of the Devil.

“He maintained that defence right up until his trial was due to start on Monday, when he finally pleaded guilty to murder, after psychiatric reports failed to support that he was suffering from mental health-related psychosis.

“In reality, Stinson went out that night, having consumed large quantities of drugs and alcohol and with a knife in his pocket, intent on causing someone harm.

“Our belief is that it could have been anyone that he attacked that night – but, sadly for Charlotte and all who knew and loved her, it was her that he chose and only he will ever truly know the reason why.”

Ms Wilcock’s mother, Carole Smalley, said: “I want to remember Charlotte for all that she was in life – ridiculously funny, full of fun, extremely loving and just a little bit ditsy.

“She looked after me and she was the perfect mum to her two children, who she loved with all her heart.

“She was just a normal, everyday girl who enjoyed life and loved her friends and family.”