Man jailed for murder of travel agent over relationship with ex-girlfriend


A man has been jailed for a minimum of 26 years for murdering a travel agent in a “cold-blooded execution” at her workplace following the break-up of his relationship.

Cassie Hayes, 28, who died in hospital from a wound to the throat, was attacked in front of customers, including children, at a Tui branch in Southport.

Liverpool crown court heard that Andrew Burke, 31, had made repeated threats to kill Hayes and himself before the murder on 13 January.

Burke’s former partner Laura Williams, 29, had begun a relationship with Hayes since breaking up with Burke, the court was told.

On Monday, in front of members of Hayes’ family, he pleaded guilty to murder and having an offensive weapon in a public place.

The judge, David Aubrey, told Burke 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,” he said.

The court heard that in January 2017, a year before the killing, Burke was charged with making malicious communications over repeated threats to kill Hayes or himself. He pleaded guilty to that offence and received a fine and an unpaid work placement, the court heard.





Laura Williams (left) and Cassie Hayes.



Laura Williams (left) and Cassie Hayes. Photograph: Family handout/PA

Gordon Cole QC, prosecuting, said Burke blamed Hayes for the break-up with Williams and was given a police harassment warning in May 2017, eight months before killing her.

On 12 January, the day before the murder, Burke appeared at Sefton magistrates court, where he was convicted of harassing Williams and released on bail before sentencing.

Cole said the murder was a premeditated and planned attack carried out in a “totally ruthless way”. “It was essentially an execution of a young woman in her place of work,” he said.

The killing was witnessed by several customers, including two children aged 12 and nine, who described how Burke walked into the travel agents with his hood up and approached Hayes at the counter.

One of Hayes’ colleagues heard Burke say: “I just want to apologise for what I am about to do”, before he walked behind the victim and slit her throat with a 12cm knife.

Cole said that, after the attack, Burke apologised to the witnesses and told them Hayes “had it coming for what she had done to his family”. He then waited calmly for the police to arrive and arrest him, the prosecutor said.

Burke’s sister, Sarah, had indicated that her brother had a “continuing fixation” with Williams and Hayes and “continually blamed Cassie for ruining his relationship”, the court heard.

On the day before the murder, he called his sister and said: “I’ll turn left and go home, or turn right, go to Wilkinsons, buy the biggest knife I can find, go to Southport and slit Cassie’s throat.”

But Sarah Burke dismissed those comments and told him to go home and grow up, Cole said.

In victim impact statements, Hayes’ family said they had been left “truly broken” by the murder. Her sister, Nadine Hayes, told the court: “My whole world gone, life as I knew it before has gone. This act has torn so my lives apart.”



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