Life sentence for murderer who had already killed a previous partner

A man labelled “a danger to women”, who has admitted murdering his partner, had killed a previous lover more than 20 years ago, it has emerged.

Paul Plunkett, who was found guilty in 1996 of the manslaughter of Jacqueline Aspery, has now pleaded guilty to the unrelated murder of Barbara Davison after he smothered her during an argument at their home in Redcar, Cleveland.

The 62-year-old, who has a wider history of domestic violence, appeared at Teesside Crown Court to admit murdering the 66-year-old grandmother of six in August last year.

Barbara Davison who was murdered during an argument by her partner Paul Plunkett (Cleveland Police/PA)
Barbara Davison who was murdered during an argument by her partner Paul Plunkett (Cleveland Police/PA)

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said after the hearing that he initially claimed that he did not mean to kill Ms Davison, and was only trying to silence her during an argument.

But he changed his plea on the first day of his trial and he was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 23 years in prison.

Outside court, Detective Inspector Darren Birkett said: “Plunkett is a danger to women and will now likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

“We hope that Barbara’s family can take some comfort from the knowledge that he will never be able to hurt another family again.”

Paul Plunkett from Redcar has been jailed for a minimum of 23 years today for the murder of his partner Barbara Davison last August. In 1996 he was convicted of the manslaughter of another partner

— CPS (@cpsuk) February 21, 2019

The CPS said both women died in similar circumstances.

Crown Advocate Emma Dowling said after the hearing: “During an argument at their home last summer, Paul Plunkett smothered his partner Barbara Davison to death by forcing his hands over her mouth and nose.

“Plunkett has a number of historic convictions for violence against women, including the manslaughter of a previous partner, Jacqueline Aspery, in 1996.

“In that case, Plunkett had applied so much pressure to Jacqueline’s throat that he fractured the cartilage around her larynx.

Murderer Paul Plunkett pictured after his arrest (Cleveland Police/PA).
Murderer Paul Plunkett pictured after his arrest (Cleveland Police/PA)

“Given the similarities between the death of Barbara Davison and the manslaughter of Jacqueline Aspery, the CPS made an application for his previous convictions to be revealed to the jury.

“Given the strength of the case against him, it is unsurprising that Plunkett has pleaded guilty to murder on the first day of this trial.

“I would hope that the significant sentence he has received today provides a measure of comfort to the family of Barbara Davison, at what must be a very difficult time for them.”

After the sentencing, her family branded the murderer “a lying, manipulative, evil coward”.

In a statement, they said: “He’s denied six grandchildren of the love and caring they had with their gran. Not a day goes by we don’t think about her.

“We will never forgive him for what he has put our mam through.

“The only comfort that we can take is knowing that hopefully he will never get out so he can’t ruin another family’s life.”