Victim said she felt ‘safe’ with boyfriend just hours before he stabbed her 12 times

GEMMA FINNIGAN ... was stabbed and strangled to death.
GEMMA FINNIGAN ... was stabbed and strangled to death.

A WOMAN sent a text message saying she felt “safe” with her boyfriend - just hours before he strangled and stabbed her 12 times.

Gemma Finnigan had grown increasingly concerned about Daniel Johnson’s bizarre behaviour, including him being convinced he was about to meet music boss Simon Cowell, in the days before he killed her.

In a text message to Johnson’s worried sister Lindsey Bennett, just hours before her death on September 13 last year, Miss Finnigan said she felt safe and was just worried about him, not herself.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Johnson, who had become obsessed with aliens and conspiracy theories, strangled and stabbed the 24-year-old in the bedroom at their home in Church View, Boldon, because he believed she had been possessed by the devil.

Johnson denies murder and is being tried by a jury, who will asked to consider whether he is guilty of manslaughter with diminished responsibility or not guilty but insane.

Prosecutor Jamie Hill QC told the court Miss Finnigan, who was brought up in Jarrow, had confided in her mum Jennifer that she was worried about Johnson’s behaviour in the days leading up to the Friday the 13th tragedy.

In a statement to police, which was read out at the trial, Jennifer Finnigan said: “Between Tuesday and Thursday she phoned a few times and texted several times and mentioned Johnson had been mentioning thread in his eyes and people who can’t be trusted need to be killed like snakes, by cutting their heads off.

“She mentioned him saying he was the chosen one and was staying awake all night looking at the sky with the telescope.”

Miss Finnigan told police her daughter had tried to convince Johnson to get help from his doctor, and even made an appointment for him, but he refused to go.

She added: “When I received the last text from Gemma she stated she wanted to help him, she didn’t seem to be frightened of him.”

Johnson’s sister Miss Bennett told police her brother seemed to appear grey in complexion and was “wide-eyed and evil-looking” in the days before the killing.

She said she had been in tears at his plight.

Miss Bennett told police Miss Finnigan had confided her concerns to her during a series of conversations and had said even their pet dog had started to cower away to his bed when Johnson was around.

She told police about a conversation with Miss Flannigan on September 12, the day before the killing.

Miss Bennett told police: “Gemma rang me that morning saying Danny had been up at 4am, preying by the side of the bed and had said things like he was going to meet with Simon Cowell and Gemma should go to college and enrol in acting or singing and he would be a talent spotter.”

The worried sister, her partner and child had visited the couple in Boldon that night, and said he still “appeared grey in colour and evil in look.”

Miss Bennett said her brother had continued to behave bizarrely, but insisted he had not “cracked up”, and refused outright to seek help saying he would rather “top himself”.

Miss Bennett said she exchanged text messages with Miss Finnigan after she and her family left the Boldon Colliery flat that night.

She said in her statement: “At one point I asked her if she felt safe around Danny.

“She text me back to say she felt safe, it was Danny she was more worried about.”

Miss Bennett said she spoke to her brother on the telephone at around 10 that night.

She said: “I asked him if he was OK and he said he was, he was going to change his life, make it better, he would prove it to us.

“He said he was the happiest he had ever been, and I told him if he was happy we were.”

The court heard Johnson had called Miss Finnigan, who he met while on day release from an open prison in 2008 and had lived with for three years, a “diamond” during the call.

Experts say the killing, at which point Johnson was in a psychotic state due to paranoid schizophrenia, happened at between 3.30 and four o clock the next morning.

A post-mortem concluded Miss Finnigan died as a result of strangulation, as well as 12 stab wounds to her front and back.

She also had two minor cuts to her neck and bruising. The trial continues.