A “highly dangerous” man who claimed he accidentally killed his ex-girlfriend by throwing an ax has been jailed for life with a minimum sentence of 32 years for her murder at Preston Crown Court.
Andrew Burfield admitted killing Katie Kenyon, 33, in the Forest of Bowland, Lancashire, on April 22, burying her body in a grave he dug the day before.
The 51-year-old hit Kenyon with an ax at least 12 times in a “ferocious and cruel” attack.
He will spend a minimum of 32 years in prison, a sentence that was reduced by a year because Burfield pleaded guilty on the third day of what would have been a three-week trial, after hearing some of the prosecution’s evidence against he
Sentencing Burfield, Judge Goose said Burfield pleaded guilty “not out of any remorse for what you’ve done, but a final acknowledgment that your game plan had failed”.
He said: “This was not an offense in the heat of an argument. It was planned before it was carried out. It involves careful preparation, deception, destruction of evidence and lies and then an obviously implausible defence, that it was all an accident.”
In reaching sentence, Judge Goose said he took into account the injuries Burfield had subjected his victim to, the concealment of the body, attempts to destroy evidence and “the cruel messages you sent to Katie’s children and other people pretending to be hers”.
He added that Burfield should prepare “for the possibility that you will never be released, that is your danger.”
Kenyon had last been seen on the day of her murder getting into a van in Padiham, East Lancashire, where she lived.
Authorities spent seven days searching for her in a hunt involving 60 specialist officers from Lancashire Police, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service staff, mounted police, dog teams, mountain rescue volunteers and drones.
Burfield, of Todmorden Road, Burnley, initially told police she had no idea what had happened to Kenyon, then changed her story to say she died when he accidentally hit her once in the head with the ax , after she challenged him to hit a coke. -The can of glue slipped out of his hand and was missing.
He was arrested on suspicion of murder on April 27, five days after Kenyon went missing.
Police discovered her body in the Gisburn Forest a week after she was killed in a well-disguised grave in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which Burfield had dug with ladders and a shovel borrowed from her father the day before.
Officers had been led to the scene by the killer, who had hidden his body so well that forensic investigators said they would have struggled to spot it.
In a victim impact statement, Sarah Kenyon-Holden described her sister as a “fantastic mother” who was “always surrounded by children”.
She said that after Kenyon’s disappearance, her two sons “couldn’t understand what was going on around them and were asking hundreds of questions.”
“We just didn’t have a lot of the answers,” he added.
Kenyon’s children were forced to leave their home and are now being raised by Kenyon’s mother, Dawn.
Kenyon-Holden described how friends and family were unable to say goodbye to her sister due to the extent of her injuries, adding: “Katie’s murder has had an indescribable emotional effect on our family, and things will never be the same again. I can’t put it into words.”
After his statement, the crowd in the courtroom erupted in applause and he was later admonished by the judge.