A Norwich man has been sentenced to life behind bars after murdering his former partner.
Joe Storey, 27, who at the beginning of the trial pleaded guilty to manslaughter but denied murdering 32-year-old Kerri McAuley, was convicted on Thursday 15 June 2017 by unanimous jury in less than an hour following a two-week trial at Norwich Crown Court.
The court heard how Kerri was last seen alive with Storey in Norwich on the evening of Saturday 7 January 2017.
At approximately 10.40pm on the following day (Sunday 8 January 2017) officers were alerted by ambulance crews to reports of a woman who had been found deceased in Southalls Way.
A post mortem examination revealed Kerri had been the subject of a severe blunt force trauma to the face consistent with a serious violent assault. This resulted in every bone in Kerri’s face being broken.
After discovering her body, police arrested Storey at 1.18am the following morning (Monday) in Vanguard Close. A number of forensic seizures were made including a blood stained t-shirt which was later identified to contain the DNA profile of Kerri McAuley.
Storey, from Murrells Court, St John Street, was taken to Aylsham Police Investigation Centre and was charged with murder on 11 January.
Detective Chief Inspector Marie James, from the Norfolk and Suffolk Joint Major investigation Team, who led the enquiry said, “This result highlights the severity and level of violence used in such a disturbing case.
“Nothing can make up for the loss, suffering and pain that Kerri’s family have gone through and my thoughts are with them. This case was one of the most emotive investigations I have been involved in and has affected the most experienced of officers.
“The public can feel reassured that this dangerous man is going to spend a significant time behind bars where he cannot pose a risk to vulnerable women.”
Joe Storey was sentenced to life imprisonment and will serve a minimum term of 24 years.
Kerri’s mother issued the following victim statement:
“I am Lesley McAuley, the mother of Kerri McAuley whose life was brutally ended at the hands of Joe Storey on January 8th 2017. This day forever changed my life and the lives of everybody who knew and loved my daughter.
Kerri was my first child, my only daughter and part of a large and loving family. Kerri, my son Rory and I moved to Norwich in 1995 when Kerri was 9 years old and here we built a life full of happy memories, Kerri was full of such a love of life; a sociable, fun loving girl with a heart of gold who was a loyal friend and who touched the lives of so many people. She had so many different groups of friends and I draw strength from the knowledge that Kerri’s memory lives on with them, and from the support that they have given in the days, weeks and months following Kerri’s murder .This has meant a lot to me and my family.
Kerri and I were close and would speak or see each other every single day and now to know that I will never again be able to call her just for a chat, to laugh with her and to share her life is more than I can bear. To describe my life now I would say that life isn’t normal, it will never be normal again. It is a cycle of bad days, worse days and a few ‘cope-able’ days. I am now full of emptiness, despair, confusion and hopelessness.
The scene that faced me that day will never leave my mind. There is not one second of any day that I don’t see her body, her broken face, it will never leave me. I remember arriving at Kerri’s home, somewhere she and her children should have been safe and, call it a mother’s instinct, knowing that there was something wrong. I just knew but nothing prepared me for what Rory and I were about to find. Walking into the hallway, seeing the blood – the bright red smears all over the pale walls – then hearing Rory scream and looking down to see my beautiful baby girl laying on the floor, her head hanging out of the doorway into the hallway. I couldn’t see her face underneath her hair which was so matted and covered in blood. I fell to my knees and as I tried to move her hair off her face that’s when I felt her. She was so cold and in that instant I knew she was dead and that that monster had killed her. I couldn’t believe that it was my girl lying on the floor; it didn’t even look like her. Her beautiful face gone, her head was huge and so swollen. I felt for a pulse but felt nothing; I knew there was nothing I or anyone could do, she’d been gone hours. Looking around Kerri’s flat I could see blood on every surface, I could see punch marks in the walls and in the doors and there was no doubt in my mind that this was him, I knew it was him. It was what he did. I cannot imagine the fear and pain my daughter would have endured that night, at the hands of that monster, that so called man who claimed to have loved her. I continue to have flashbacks now, to Kerri’s lifeless body, living every day with the horror of finding my daughter dead in her own home. I wake every morning thinking of Kerri, my first born child so cruelly taken from all our lives.
My life will never now be whole without Kerri to complete it, as a family we are forever broken. My heart bears the deepest break from which it will never heal. I can no longer look at a photo of Kerri or even think about her in happy times as all my mind sees is that image of my beautiful girl lying on the floor, hair matted with blood, face distorted and swollen. It breaks my heart to know that I will never again see that glint in her eyes; eyes so full of love for life nor will I ever watch the two dimples slowly appear in her cheeks as she smiles her cheeky smile. This pain I feel not just for myself and my family but for her children. Above everything else, Kerri worshiped her children and lived for them. Everything she ever did was to give her sons a good and happy life and I take comfort from seeing them now, knowing how proud she would be of the young men that they are to become – a shining testament to the mother that she was to them. Though this comfort is bittersweet, it hurts me deeply to know that never again will Kerri and I watch together as they perform in school plays. She will never get to be proud of their successes nor be there to cuddle them when they are sad. It is such a waste of a beautiful soul so cruelly and heartlessly taken by this monster my daughter fell in love with, a monster who hounded her down and got her.
Following Kerri’s’ murder I now live my life medicated just to try to get through every day. I have sleeping tablets, anxiety medication, anti-depressants along with counselling and psychologist appointments. Every moment I am filled with crippling thoughts that something bad is going to happen to everyone I love. At times these thoughts paralyse me so I am unable to leave the house or even to function. Existing medical conditions I have are now worse and my own health is no longer a priority for me. I have days where I can’t leave the house. If I do go to the local shop, people I know cross the road or look away quickly pretending they haven’t seen me. They just don’t know what to say to me and what can they say? I am numb. I can’t let myself feel as I don’t know what will happen if I allow myself that. I have to be OK. I have to go on but there are days when I just don’t know how I can. I need to be here for my son Rory, to try to support him through his loss and for my Partner too whose life has forever been significantly affected.
I don’t know how to accept that this nightmare I am now living will never end. There have been times when all I want is to be with Kerri and when I look at the faces of Kerri’s sons I see her face looking back at me and my heart breaks all over again. Those boys have their whole lives ahead of them and their mother should be there to see it, to live it with them. She had so much to live for, so much unfulfilled promise. She will never get to be a godmother or the fun Auntie I know she would have been to my son’s baby daughter Gigi. Parents should never outlive their children and for this I am filled with guilt.
I struggle to understand how he could leave her there in her home so badly injured; to lock her in the flat alone; for breaking her phone denying her a way to contact me or anyone who could have helped her. He chose to leave her there, battered and broken; he chose to lock that door and simply leave her there alone either dead or dying. When I think of Reilly and Blake going home earlier that evening before Rory and I; to think of them running up to the door so excited to be home to tell their mummy about the weekend they had had with their Dad. I can imagine them now had that door been unlocked, walking in shouting ‘Mummy’ just as they always did and being confronted by the scene of absolute horror, of such sights that haunt me still.
I feel such hatred towards him for what he has done to our lives. What kind of human being can do that? I have no words to express what this monster has taken from us. Nothing will ever be the same. His actions have devastated so many lives and caused such heartache. I will forever remember Kerri for the woman that she was but I will always wonder about the woman she was to become.
Any sentence that is passed will never be enough, the years simply don’t matter. It will never make up for what he has so brutally and cruelly taken from us. Kerri will never be forgotten. She will be forever loved.”