A jealous man who claimed he accidentally shot his girlfriend as she tried to stop him from taking his own life has been jailed for her murder.
Michael Strudwick, 33, killed Christy Walshe, 40, with a shotgun blast to the face at her flat in Southend on 13 January.
He initially denied murder but changed his plea.
At Basildon Crown Court, Judge John Lodge sentenced him to life with a minimum term of 26 years and 25 days.
Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, said Ms Walshe was killed amid a drink and drug-fuelled argument over her previous relationship.
She had told a taxi driver Strudwick was jealous of her late partner, who had served in the armed forces.
The court heard the defendant threatened to kill Ms Walshe, saying: “I bet you wish you were with him… that can be arranged.”
He shot Ms Walshe at point-blank range before attempting to take his own life, using a gun belonging to her former partner.
Sentencing, Judge Lodge said Ms Walshe did not die immediately despite her “catastrophic injuries”.
“Despite everything people did to save her they could not and she did not survive,” he said.
‘I’m breathing but she’s dead’
999 call transcript
Operator: Ambulance emergency. Is the patient breathing?
Strudwick: Nope, she’s dead. I’m breathing but she’s dead.
Operator: Can you tell me what’s happened please?
Operator: Tell me exactly what’s happened.
Strudwick: Gunshots. I tried. I killed her and I tried to kill myself and failed.
Operator: What town are you in?
Strudwick: Err Southend… I will be… I will be here standing here waiting for you. It’s my responsibility I’ve done wrong.
In a statement read out in court, Ms Walshe’s mother Jacqueline Stead said: “The thoughts of my daughter’s last moments, how scared she must have been seeing the gun pointed at her, haunt me.”
She added her daughter’s loss to Strudwick’s “cruel” action had impacted on the whole family and “none of us will ever be the same again”.
Mark Milliken-Smith, defending, said Strudwick, who was previously of good character, was “truly sorry”.
“If he could turn back the clock and make right what he did he would,” he said.
He added the pair’s eight month relationship had been “very good” and there was no history of violence or domestic issues prior to the killing.