Convicted Barnstaple murderer was ‘control freak’

“Bloodbath” at Fortmead Close as builder Neil Langmead killed his wife and her friend

Control freak Neil Langmead who savagely stabbed his estranged wife and her best friend to death in a bloodbath at her home just days after police ordered him to stop harassing her, was jailed for 30 years on Thursday.

The 41-year-old builder was convicted of the frenzied knife attack on 35-year-old Debbie Langmead and Donna St John, also 35.

Langmead tried to blame his dark-haired wife for launching the savage and bloody attack, saying she stabbed mum of two Donna in a vicious cat fight.

Langmead said carer Debbie stabbed him half a dozen times before he armed himself and stabbed her to death saying ‘it was either her or me’.

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On Thursday, he was convicted of both murders and the judge, Mr Justice Field, jailed him for a minimum of 29 years and 79 days - because he has spent nearly a year on remand.

The judge told him: “Both women were in their 30s, both had two children, both were entirely innocent, neither had done anything at all that could begin to justify what you did to them.

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“In your evidence you blamed the woman you claimed to love, Deborah, for the death of Donna and moved on to attack yourself.”

The judge said his account was a “tissue of lies,” adding it was to his lasting discredit that he tried to blame Debbie.

The judge said the attacks were not premeditated or had a sexual motive but he said there was a sexual element to what he did to both women as they lay dead in a pool of blood afterwards.

A jury at Exeter Crown Court utterly rejected Langmead’s story. They decided that he plunged three kitchen knives into Debbie 19 times - three of them to her liver and lung would have proved fatal in seconds.

Blonde Donna suffered nine stab wounds.

Speaking after the verdict, Debbie’s mother Caroline Hooper said there were no words powerful enough to describe the pain and anguish they felt at the cruel, evil way she was taken from them.

“She was a beautiful young woman, kind, loving and loved life,” she said.

“Debbie was an inspiration to us as a family, to her friends and especially to her children who were her world. She loved and adored them.

“The sadness we feel is that Debbie is no longer with us is, at times, almost too hard to bear. We would like to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone for their continued kindness and support throughout these difficult times.”

“Finally, we would like to thank the Police for their professionalism and diligence in their investigations in the last ten months, enabling justice to be done.”

Hazel Harding said her sister Donna had been “the most bubbly, kind-hearted person” who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“She would light up any room when she entered with her happy outlook on life,” she said.

“Her family will never recover from her death and there is now an empty space within the lives of her two young daughters, her twin brother, her sister, her father and extended family.

“All of the family would like to thank Mr Fitton QC, DI Mike West, DS Palmer and all of the police investigation team and family liaison for all of their hard work and commitment.”

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