The father of a woman stabbed to death on New Year’s Day cheered as her jealous boyfriend was jailed for life, saying: “I’m so happy he cannot do it to another woman.”
Michael Rolle, 34, knifed mother-of-one Charlotte Huggins in the back at her home in Camberwell, south-east London, after she returned from celebrating the New Year in a pub.
Afterwards, Ms Huggins staggered away and said “he stabbed me” before she collapsed, the Old Bailey heard.
The defendant claimed the 33-year-old victim had been holding a kitchen knife behind her back when she tripped and fatally injured herself in a “freak” accident.
But jurors heard how the jealous and controlling man had threatened Ms Huggins with knives just days before the killing at her 33rd birthday party.
As she returned to the home she shared with her aunt and 10-year-old daughter, she told a friend she would be “looking out for Michael the maniac”.
He barged into her home at 4am and forced a childhood friend to leave before he stabbed her while in the grip of a “drink and drug fuelled jealous rage”, the court heard.
Afterwards, Rolle tried unsuccessfully to persuade his other partner to dispose of his bloody clothes.
A jury deliberated for just an hour and a half to find Rolle, 34, of East Dulwich, south-east London, guilty of murder on Thursday.
Family and friends of the “beautiful, friendly and outgoing” victim cheered and clapped at the Old Bailey as Rolle was jailed for life with a minimum term of 20 years.
Supporters in the public gallery shouted down to the dock: “Rot in hell. Now your misery starts”, as the smirking defendant was sent down.
Outside court, the victim’s father Philip Huggins danced and hugged friends and family who had packed into the courtroom.
He said: “I’m so happy he cannot do it to another woman. We got justice for Charlotte.”
Sentencing, Judge Heather Norton said: “It is perhaps a very little comfort to some of her friends that the last memory they will have of her alive is her laughing and dancing.
“As well as reasons to be happy and to celebrate, Charlotte also had reasons to be cautious when she left that pub to go home.”
She told the defendant: “Charlotte was a small and slight woman. You stabbed her in the back.
“There was no sign she could have done anything to defend herself from you.”
Afterwards, Ms Huggins’ young daughter had to be woken up carried out of the house, past the bloody scene.
Ms Huggins was believed to be the first person to be killed in London in 2019.
During the trial, prosecutor Gareth Patterson QC told how Rolle would “behave in a controlling way” towards Ms Huggins and was “jealous” of any contact she had with other men.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Huggins said: “The last time I spoke to Charlotte was on New Year’s Eve.
“She rang me up in the Canterbury Arms.
“She wished me happy New Year and told me she loved me.
“We all loved her so, so much and are heartbroken she has been taken from us. Charlotte was a beautiful person inside and out.
“Charlotte was a gem. She would do anything for anyone.
“It destroyed our lives – how can we ever celebrate New Year’s Eve again.”
Ms Huggins’ foster mother and aunt Peggy Mackie said her 10-year-old daughter had been “traumatised at losing her mum”.
She said: “No child should lose a parent under such circumstances. She should grow up with her mother there. We all miss her ever so much.”
Detective Inspector Domenica Catino, of Scotland Yard, said: “Throughout the trial Michael Rolle took no responsibility for his actions and portrayed himself to be the victim.
“He professed his deep love for Charlotte yet callously watched her take her last few breaths before cowardly cycling away, never stopping to look back, never stopping to help her or even phone for help.
“Rolle had no regard for Charlotte as she lay dying but in giving evidence focused only on the effect it had on him, not considering for a moment the effects on Charlotte’s family, or her 10-year-old child who has to face a future with no mother.
“His focus was fabricating an account to save himself.
“In the days leading up to his arrest Rolle came up with a truly unbelievable fantasy of Charlotte stabbing herself in the back, making numerous notes to ensure he covered all angles, and then trying to gain sympathy by declaring it to be a suicide note.
“These were the efforts of an intensely jealous man who showed no remorse and blamed everyone but himself.”