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Jailed: 17 years for Shrewsbury man who murdered partner at her work in 'vicious and violent' attack

Shrewsbury | News | Published:

A violent man with a record of attacking women has been jailed for 17 years for murdering his partner at the offices where she worked in Shrewsbury.

Nigel Woolley left Julie Mercer lying in agony on the floor of Dial-a-Ride on the Sundorne Trade Park. She suffered severe injuries – including a split pancreas and rib fractures – and was found dead at the scene, Worcester Crown Court was told.

A jury took just 45 minutes to find Woolley guilty of murder today. The 46-year-old, of Buttington Way in Monkmoor, Shrewsbury, had previously admitted manslaughter of 47-year-old Miss Mercer on December 23, 2014.

It was revealed after the verdict was delivered that Woolley was already under a suspended sentence for another assault on Miss Mercer before the trial.

Police at the scene in Featherbed Lane, Shrewsbury

Mr Richard Atkins QC, prosecuting, also gave details of assaults carried out by Woolley on women since 2000.

He had appeared before the courts for an assault on his first wife Janine, when he grabbed her by the throat and threw her on a bed. He repeated this conduct over the years, sometimes against his partner Miss Mercer.

Mr Andrew O'Byrne, for Woolley, said his client had no intention of killing Miss Mercer. But Judge Robert Juckes QC said she had an "astonishing" category of rib fractures discovered after her death.

Mr O'Byrne said he recognised that family feelings would continue for many years and probably never abate.

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Police at the scene in Featherbed Lane, Shrewsbury.

But the judge said he had observed Woolley during the trial and there had been no sign of regret. The number of injuries on his victim showed that he must have carried out attacks on her body for many years.

The judge accepted that she must have become angry on occasions but then she was attacked.

Police at the scene in Featherbed Lane, Shrewsbury

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On Christmas Eve 2014, they met at her place of work after they had fallen out. After drinking heavily, she fell off a chair and when he returned after getting fast food, she was lying on the floor. He walked over her, causing injuries which split her pancreas.

Critically injured, she lost blood and lay there until her boss unlocked the next day.

Mr Atkins read statements to the court on the effects of the case upon the family.

Miss Mercer's mother said she had difficulty in sleeping and living from day to day. Woolley's daughter Samantha had to leave the family address and had to arrange her mother's funeral arrangements and financial affairs.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Jamieson said: "We welcome today's sentence. Woolley subjected Julie to a vicious and violent attack that left her with horrendous injuries. Our thoughts today are with her family and friends. She died needlessly at the hands of a dangerous and violent man.

"Domestic violence and abuse can take many forms including psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional. The sad fact is that a victim experiences an average of 35 incidents of domestic violence and abuse before they report it.

"There's a great deal of professional advice and support for people in unhealthy, confrontational, abusive and violent relationships and these are available free of charge. Whether you are a woman or a man, you should not have to suffer or endure verbal or physical abuse from a partner or relative and I would urge anyone experiencing these kinds of issues not to suffer in silence but instead speak out."

Jan Frances, Chief Executive at West Mercia Women's Aid, said: "It is tragic that women are still dying at the hands of their partners and former partners, in spite of the best efforts of the police and support services such as Women's Aid.

"In many cases, women are not aware of the support that is available, such as access to refuges or our Independent Domestic Violence Advisors, who can help victims at high risk from violence to put in place an effective safety plan. If you are worried by your partner's behaviour or afraid of his actions, please ring the 24hr helpline on 0800 783 1359. We can help you."

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