“My f****** bird is dead, and I’m getting the blame”: Man beat his girlfriend to death, put a cuddly toy next to her body… then went to buy cannabis

A man beat his girlfriend to death then went to buy cannabis, a court heard.

Kevin Ashton left Helen Joy with 121 external injuries – then claimed she inflicted them on herself.

The mum-of-three was found lying on a mattress with a photo of her former pet dog in her hands.

There was also a squirrel cuddly toy and a bottle of cider next to her body.

Ashton, 45, then travelled to Cheshire to see his family following the heinous attack.

He denied murdering the 54-year-old and said he kissed her on the head to wish her goodnight.

He claimed he then found her dead the next morning, the Liverpool Echo reports .

He claimed Helen repeatedly fell over and had been hallucinating and banging her head against a wall at their flat in Leasowe, Wirral.

But jurors heard he had three previous convictions for common assault against Ms Joy, in 2015, 2018 and 2019.

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They took just two hours and 23 minutes of deliberation to unanimously find him guilty of murder, following a five-day trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

Members of Ms Joy’s family broke down in tears of relief and hugged each other when the guilty verdict was returned.

Ashton, who clasped hearing aid headphones to his ears, showed no emotion.

However, when his sentencing was adjourned, he swaggered out of the dock and gave a two finger ‘peace’ sign to his mum and sister.

The trial heard Ashton left the couple’s flat in Twickenham Drive on the morning of Monday, February 1 this year and travelled to Widnes.

There he told his dad Barry Ashton “Helen’s dead”, but admitted he hadn’t reported it, before his father did “the right thing” and called police.

Officers forced entry to the couple’s flat and found Ms Joy’s body, with extensive bruising to the neck and head.

Helen Joy

She had a bleed on the brain, broken nose and neck bones, 14 broken ribs and shearing of her scalp and upper gum away from her skull and jaw respectively.

David McLachlan, QC, prosecuting, said: “Helen Joy had literally been battered to death by Kevin Ashton. The man who shakes his head in the dock today.”

He said the couple were alcoholics and neighbours regularly heard them shouting at each other, but in the days before her death, only heard Ashton yelling.

The jury heard evidence from a friend of both parties, who said she witnessed Ashton jab an empty cider bottle in frail Ms Joy’s eye in July 2019, after his victim revealed he had been assaulting her for eight years.

Mr McLachlan said evidence suggested Ashton killed her either on Friday, January 29 or Saturday, January 30, before going to buy cannabis on the Sunday.

The court heard Ashton told his cannabis dealer “The Mrs is dead” but ignored his advice to call the police or an ambulance.

Police arrested Ashton at his mum Linda Ashton’s home in Widnes at midday on February 1, where they found him drinking alcohol from a mug.

He later moaned: “My f***ing bird is dead, and I’m getting the blame for it now.”

Ashton claimed Ms Joy caused the injuries to herself and he tried to stop her, before insisting during a series of interviews that she had been falling over for about two years, including 10 to 15 times in the last two months.

The flat the couple shared on Twickenham Drive in Leasowe, Wirral, Merseyside

He told police the squirrel and the dog photo “meant everything to her”, but accepted: “It looks dead dodgy now.”

A Home Office pathologist said some of Ms Joy’s injuries could relate to falling, but overall, the pattern indicated a “violent, recent and life-threatening blunt force assault, which involved blows to her head and also to her neck”.

Dr Paul Johnson found the cause of death was “multiple injuries with terminal hypothermia”.

Mr McLachan suggested Ashton was responsible for a series of attacks in the days and hours leading up to Ms Joy’s death.

He said: “And what did he do about it, as she was so poorly, lying on the floor injured? What did he do? Simply, he did nothing.”

Ashton told the jury that when he discovered Ms Joy’s body, he just “hugged her and cried”, before he went to buy cannabis.

He claimed he put her to bed with a duvet over her and the items next to her body because “I wasn’t leaving her on the floor like nothing”.

Ashton said Ms Joy was the “best thing in my life” and he remained in love with her, before denying Mr McLachlan’s suggestion that he had “bullied her”.

However, the jury rejected his claims.

Judge Brian Cummings, QC, said Ashton will be sentenced on November 12 and remanded him in custody until that date.

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