Heartbroken friends of a young South Tyneside mother who was killed by her partner have taken to an online petition to call for the “severest sentence possible” for her killer.
Melissa Liddle was only 23 years old when her life was snatched away on Mother’s Day by her childhood sweetheart Anthony Ross.
The mother-of-two was found dead in the home the couple shared in Oak Avenue, South Shields, in March.
The killing on Mother’s Day shocked the community where they lived and left her family and friends devastated.
When Ross appeared in court charged with murder last month, the prosecution accepted a guilty plea to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
The online petition disputes The Crown Prosecution Service decision to proceed with the lesser charge and have appealed to the judge who will sentence Ross.
It says: “Whilst amazed and astounded that her partner is only being charged with manslaughter due to diminished responsibility, we want to take this opportunity in imploring the judicial system and more importantly the presiding judge overseeing the sentencing, to award the most severest sentence possible.”
Ross is currently remanded in custody awaiting sentence.
The petition currently stands at more than 2,000 signatures.
Barbara Marshall, a close family friend, who launched the petition said: “What has happened to Melissa has left her family devastated.
“This is our way of giving Melissa a voice and just want as many people as possible to get behind the petition.
“Melissa’s death has been heartbreaking for us all.
“I have known her since she was 14, she was a lovely, lovely girl. You never heard anyone speak badly of her and she had such a bright future ahead of her.
“We just want to make sure he received the harshest sentence possible.”
Miss Liddle was mother to Lewis, five, and baby Ollie, aged seven months.
John Dilworth, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North East, said: “While Anthony Ross was initially charged with murder, it is the duty of all prosecutors to keep criminal cases under continuous review as further evidence emerges.
“In this case, three independent psychiatric reports agreed that Mr Ross was experiencing a significant psychotic episode at the time when he killed Melissa Liddle.
“Given this evidence, there was no longer a realistic prospect of a conviction for murder and, after discussion with members of Melissa’s close family, the decision was taken by the Crown to accept Mr Ross’ plea to the charge of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.”
“Our thoughts remain with Melissa’s family and friends following the tragic loss that they have suffered in this case.”