A woman who after years of just beginning to get her life together” after years with a violent, controlling, selfish bully” died screaming for her babies, a shocking court heard on Friday.
Gemma Cowey, 38, was brutally stabbed in a derelict mental institution by her former husband after she refused to get back together with him.
Michael Cowey, 49, from Norwich, Norfolk, who appeared via video link in court, was imprisoned for life today and sentenced to spend at least 23 years behind bars for the murder of a mother of three.
On both of the two counts of possession of an assault firearm, he was also given a combined two and a half year term.
In 2014, the court heard how customer services consultant Gemma met Cowey and married him in 2018.
Due to his persistent abusive behaviour, she left him in January this year.
Gemma and her children went to live with Linda Smith, her mother, and she was “gaining in strength and self-confidence”
For the sake of the two children they had together, she maintained contact with her former husband.
Cowey lured her to St Andrew’s Hospital near Norwich, Thorpe St Andrew, in June. Two knives were carried by him to the conference.
Cowey told officers: “With the intention of killing Gemma, I didn’t go to that mortuary. I thought I was going to but I didn’t have the intention of doing it.”
I was hoping that she would return. She’s an awesome woman. She was cheating on me, I thought. I gave her a name, so she threw coffee in my face. It was hot and boiling and I lost it. I stabbed her then.’
The Crown did not accept that the assault was a spontaneous result” of Gemma throwing coffee, as he had gone to the meeting armed with knives, Prosecutor Stephen Spence said.
He insisted it was more likely that when trying to protect herself from his knife attack, she may have thrown coffee.
After hearing a woman screaming loudly “for some time” from the deserted mortuary, two men who had also been working nearby went to examine, said Mr Spence.
“In her victim impact statement, Gemma’s mother said that her daughter was the epitome of compassion and kindness”.
But after being “bedraggled and exhausted, a shadow of her former self” she said she had been left “enslaved into his pathetic world of abuse” by Cowey.
“She added: “Every day the sheer evil of what he did compounds my mind. Gemma suffered for her life, because she had defensive wounds, we know this.
In my mind and heart, knowing this causes absolute pain. I see Gemma crying for her life, and when she sees the knives, I see terror and pain in her face.
It is assumed she was crying for her babies and when I think of this, my heart twists in pain.
“My human impulse as a parent is to protect my children, I am utterly destroyed that I’m not able to protect her in the final minutes of her life.”
Eric Marjoram, Gemma’s dad, said that she was “happy and bubbly” and looking forward to her new life without Cowey.
He said When Gemma was murdered, she was just beginning to get her life together again and for the first time in years the light was back in her eyes.”