Victim Michelle Suttle
Victim Michelle Suttle

MICHELLE Suttle’s life was cut cruelly short by a man who had a history of violence against her, putting his partner in hospital four times.

Gavin Sartain, aged 31, pleaded guilty to murdering the former Rastrick High School student, aged 23, in a drink-fuelled rage at their home in Baker Street, Oakes, Huddersfield in June. He had stabbed her 39 times.

Sartain was sentenced to life imprisonment and must serve a minimum term of 12 years before being considered for parole.

Michelle’s father, Raymond, said the family was relieved at the outcome. “At least my daughter is at rest now.”

He said Michelle was well-liked and respected.

“You read about these things and your heart goes out to the families involved. But you don’t realise how much it hurts until you go through it yourself.”

He thanked Michelle’s friends and the police for all their support. “They have all been there for us and made things easier.”

Bradford Crown Court heard the pair had drunk two bottles of vodka on the evening of June 8 after spending the night with a neighbour, during which they had begun to argue.

Prosecutor Jonathan Sharp said the couple had a tempestuous relationship and Michelle, known as Shelly to family and friends, had been admitted to hospital four times as a result of violence from Sartain before the fatal attack.

Mr Sharp said: “The argument escalated after they got home. He attacked her in the hallway of the house and she appears to have collapsed almost immediately.

“Then there was a frenzied attack, during which he stabbed her 39 times.”

The court heard that Sartain went outside their home and called police. He told them: “I’ve killed her, she’s dead. She’s not moving. I’ve stabbed her.”

The savage attack left Michelle, a care assistant at Elm Royd Care Home, Brighouse, with wounds to her chest, abdomen and neck and extensive haemorrhaging. She was not breathing when she arrived and was pronounced dead at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary at 1.40am.

Gordon Cole QC, defending Sartain, said: “He has always made it clear that he was conscious of the massive, incalculable distress he has caused Michelle’s family and has always expressed his desire to have this case dealt with as soon as possible. He told me there was no way he was going to put her family through the ordeal of a trial.”

Mr Cole said: “The defendant says he never intended to kill her. He says he loved her, that he still does, and that he regrets immensely what took place.”

Jailing Sartain, Judge Peter Benson said he accepted as genuine his expression of deep regret of pain and misery he had caused Michelle’s family by taking from them a much-loved and admired young woman. He said the sympathy and thoughts of the court went out to Michelle’s family.

He told Sartain: “This wholly pointless waste of a promising young life must bear very deeply upon them and no sentence I can pass upon you will be adequate to reflect their loss.”

Detective Superintendent Sukhbir Singh, of West Yorkshire Police homicide and major enquires team, said Sartain did at least do the right thing by pleading guilty to Michelle’s murder, therefore sparing the Suttle family the distress and anxiety of a full trial.

Reviewing lawyer with Crown Prosecution Service Yorkshire and Humberside, Julian Briggs, said it was a tragic case in which a young woman’s life was cut brutally short, in the environment where she should have felt safest – at home with her partner.

“Our thoughts are with Michelle’s family and friends at this terrible time. Although nothing we can say will begin to assuage their grief, we hope that the defendant’s plea of guilty and his sentencing at court will begin to bring some closure and comfort to them.”