A landlady who murdered her lodger has been jailed for life – as it emerged the victim previously killed his wife in front of their two young sons.
Dawn Lewis, 54, was convicted on Thursday of murdering 61-year-old Glenn Richards at her home in Glastonbury, Somerset in April.
The court heard Mr Richards moved to Glastonbury after being released from prison in 2011 for the manslaughter of his wife Karen in 2001.
Lewis claimed she had acted in self-defence but this was dismissed by the jury at Bristol Crown Court, following nine hours of deliberations
On Friday, yoga teacher Lewis was sentenced and told she would serve a minimum of 20 years.
Mr Richards was released from prison last August and moved in with Lewis at her cottage.
Giving evidence during her trial, Lewis claimed to have feared for her life during a “struggle” with a knife after being confronted by Richards.
She claimed he had tried to kill her but fell down the stairs after she fought back.
This, Lewis said, allowed her to pick up the blade and use it against Richards to prevent him from attacking her further.
But the jury rejected her claim that she was only defending herself when she carried out the fatal stabbing on 18 April.
During the three-week trial, the court was told that detectives became suspicious of her account after the doctor who treated her leg wounds suggested they appeared to be “self-inflicted”.
The court heard that an associate of Lewis told officers that she’d told him she wanted Richards to move out of her house.
He described a video call with her just hours before the incident in which she’d shown him a knife and spoke of stabbing Richards in his bedroom before doing the same to herself, so she could claim self-defence.
Before sentencing was passed, a tearful victim impact statement was read out by the victim’s son Jamie Richards, who said it brought back horrific memories of what he witnessed as a boy.
Jamie Richards told the court he felt ‘robbed of a chance at closure’ as he was just weeks away from seeing his father for the first time since witnessing his mother’s bloody death as an 11-year-old.
He said: “In 2001 Glenn Richards killed my mother in front of me and my brother. I was just 11 at the time – that was the last time saw I saw Glenn Richards alive.
“Since Glenn’s death I have been taken back 21 year to that scared 11 year old boy unaware of what the future will hold.
“I listened to the details of what Glenn did to my mum and found myself back there in the kitchen, making apple crumble when Glenn burst through the door with a knife screaming ‘where is your mother?’ “It brought back everything, a new wave of emotion that left me feeling confused and emotionally exhausted.
“I felt in moments Glenn deserved what happened, but I have my mum’s heart and no-one, not even Glenn should have their life taken from them.
“Because of Dawn Lewis, I have had to start another grief process because of the murder of another parent all over again.”
The son told the court he had spent years building up to the meeting with his father that was due to take place just weeks after his murder.
He said he thought it was a “sick joke” after hearing of the killing.
He added: “He was ill at the time he killed mum – that will never excuse what he did and I will never forgive.
“I will always hate him for taking my mum away from him. He also took himself away from my life.
“He knew he wasn’t going to hear nice things and what we were planning to say would have been hurtful. But he was prepared to sit down and listen and take it like a man.
“The opportunity to say the impact it had on my growing up was taken away from me by Dawn Lewis.
“I will never get to say those things to him. It is true what they say, time is a healer however pain only numbs – it never heals.”
The court heard Mr Richards and the landlady would often argue and he would complain about her noise.
Sentencing her at Bristol Crown Court, judge His Honour William Hart said she had tried to cover up her murder by playing on her fear she could have been another victim.
He said: “Glenn Richards was jailed for life for stabbing to death Karen Richards on 7 May 2001 in front of their two young sons – Jamie and Daniel.
“He was forever marked by the burden of guilt for what he had done – and rightly so – but he was genuinely contrite.”
He said rather than being fearful of him, as she had claimed, she had become “increasingly intolerant” of him.
“You decided Glenn Richards had to be removed from your life. You pre-mediated his killing and how you might get away with it.”
The judge said she added colour to his events by trying to paint him as an imminent danger to him.
But he added: “Your actions were attributed to anger rather than terror. You armed yourself with a knife, went upstairs, forced entry and he was repeatedly stabbed by you.
“It was a savage attack “You then inflicted minor incise wounds to your thigh to make it look like you were the victim. The disparity between his wounds and yours were telling.”