Killer boyfriend stabbed South Shields mum 41 times after ‘voices told him she’d had an affair’

Melissa Liddle
Melissa Liddle
  • Melissa Liddle was found dead in bed at her South Shields home
  • Boyfriend Anthony Ross was “possessive and controlling” and stabbed Melissa 41 times
  • Brother and step-father kicked in front door and found her body, while her frantic mum listened to what was happening over the phone
  • Ross ‘said he had voices in his head telling him she had been sleeping around’
  • Defence team claim Ross’s mental impairment was of a nature and degree that he should be sentenced to a hospital order

A florist was stabbed to death on Mother’s Day by her jealous boyfriend who had become convinced she was having an affair.

Mum-of-two Melissa Liddle, 23, was found dead in bed at her South Shields home after her family grew concerned about her absence on the special day.

Anthony Ross

Anthony Ross

Boyfriend Anthony Ross, 24, whose “possessive and controlling” behaviour had got worse in the previous weeks, had stabbed the much loved mum 41 times.

Newcastle Crown Court heard it was when Melissa failed to get in touch with her family on the Mother’s Day she had been looking forward to, her worried brother and step-father kicked in the front door and found her body, while her frantic mum listened to what was happening over the phone.

Her heartbroken mum, Tracey Keighley, who said Melissa could “light up a room with her smile”, told police: “I was shouting for them to kick the door in.

“I heard the sound of them running upstairs. There was tears in my eyes.

He said he had voices in his head telling him she had been sleeping around. He wasn’t sure if it was Melissa or someone who looked like her in the bed as he stabbed her.

Prosecutor Nick Dry

“There was panic as my son screamed for his sister, then it went quiet.

“I screamed ‘God no, please.

“My husband told me she had gone, I collapsed to the floor.”

Read more: Tracey Keighley’s court statement in full, including her ‘overwhelming guilt’ at not being able to save her daughter

Melissa’s step-father, David Keighley, who raised her from being a child, described what he found in the house that day as “hell”.

The court heard Melissa, who had a baby boy just months old and a son aged five, thought of her children as her “little rays of sunshine” and had told her mum the night before her death how excited she was for Mother’s Day.

Ross, who had become convinced she had started an affair through a friend at her work, told his mother around the time of the killing he had “an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other”.

His mental state had “deteriorated significantly” two days before Melissa’s death, with him telling his worried family time seemed to be “moving slow”, that he was hearing voices and wanting to stay with his father so he was safe.

On Friday March 13, he had rang Melissa at work, who had to let him speak to a colleague in a bid to prove where she was.

And he had turned up at Melissa’s mother’s home later that day, “raging” and like “a man possessed”, making further unfounded accusations about her.

The former gardener and window cleaner had attended a walk in centre at Jarrow, South Tyneside, on Saturday March 14 , the day before the killing due to his state.

He was advised to attend hospital if his condition did not improve.

The court heard Melissa had been at work in the florists that Saturday.

Prosecutor Nick Dry told the court; “She had been calling her mother to tell her how excited she was about the presents she had for her.”

Meanwhile, Ross had been ringing his own worried mother that day, talking “gibberish” and telling her he had been hearing voices.

The court heard the couple had planned to spend that night apart and the children were with grandparents.

Mr Dry told the court; “However, Melissa sent a text message asking the defendant to come home, she didn’t want to stay in the house on her own.”

The court heard in the early hours of Sunday March 15, Ross called his mother to tell her he was hearing voices and had “an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other”.

He called his mother again later that morning to wish her a happy mothers’ day and tell her “don’t forget I love you”.

The court heard Ross was driving to Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, York, Leeds and Harrogate, while Melissa’s family started to grow concerned about why she had not been in touch and made the heartbreaking find.

Ross was arrested and told detectives he had fallen asleep in bed that night for around two to three hours and then woke up and walked around with a knife he kept in the bedroom for protection.

Mr Dry added: “He said he had voices in his head telling him she had been sleeping around.

“He wasn’t sure if it was Melissa or someone who looked like her in the bed as he stabbed her.

“He thought he was being watched by other people on the bed.

“He didn’t know how many times he stabbed Melissa nor why he was doing it.”

The court heard lawyers on both sides of the case have instructed expert forensic psychiatrists.

Prosecutors claim despite Ross’s mental state, he should be sentenced to a term of imprisonment.

His defence team claim Ross’s mental impairment was of a nature and degree that he should be sentenced to a hospital order.

Judge Paul Sloan QC will hear and read evidence from both sides before passing sentence at a later date.

Ross, of Oak Avenue, South Shields, admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.