Teenager jailed for stabbing Ipswich mother Emma Lovell to death after breaking into Australia home

Christina with Emma Lovell in Australia
Emma Lovell, right, and her friend Christina Lofthouse had grown up together in Ipswich. Credit: Christina Lofthouse

A teenager who stabbed a British mother to death after breaking into her home in Australia has been jailed for 14 years.

Emma Lovell, 41, and her husband Lee Lovell, 43, had lived in Queensland for 11 years, but were originally from Ipswich in Suffolk.

She was killed on Boxing Day 2022 after confronting two intruders at her home in Brisbane.

The offender, who cannot legally be named as he was 17 at the time, pleaded guilty to her murder earlier this year.

At the time of her murder, Mrs Lovell's school friend Christina Lofthouse, who lives in Ipswich, told ITV News of her grief.

"It's like something has been ripped out with me. And I don't know how I'll ever, ever put it back," she said.

"I don't know how I ever fix any of it. Because people might say well, you don't live in the same country in the same time. No, we didn't - that didn't matter to us.

"It did not matter one little bit because she and I made sure our friendship worked across all those miles."

  • Mrs Lovell's school friend Christina Lofthouse described their relationship as "the most beautiful friendship ever" in December 2022.

At Brisbane’s Supreme Court on Monday, Justice Tom Sullivan said the attacker, now 19, had committed the “particularly heinous offence” after breaking into the property armed with a knife alongside another boy.

In his sentencing remarks, he said Mrs Lovell was described as “an energetic and beloved mother, wife, daughter, and sister”.

He added: “The Lovells were ordinary citizens enjoying their family life in their home where they were entitled to feel safe.

“What occurred on that Boxing Day evening violated that entirely.”

The teenager who allegedly wielded the murder weapon had also pleaded guilty to burglary, malicious acts with intent and assault occasioning bodily harm over an attack on Mr Lovell.

The couple had attempted to fend off the intruders after they had been woken by their dogs barking at around 11.30pm, the court heard.

Mr Lovell was injured during a “physical struggle directly outside the front door” which then moved to the front lawn, where his wife was fatally stabbed.

The second teenager being charged with the British mother’s murder is yet to enter any pleas.

The court heard the 19-year-old had been convicted of 84 offences in the past, including 16 involving unlawful entry or attempted entry of properties, but none had been violent.

Ms Lofthouse had visited Ms Lovell in Australia in 2022. Credit: Christina Lofthouse

Justice Sullivan said he had taken into account the teenager’s childhood of “deprivation” but also had to consider “the seriousness of the offending”.

He had turned to alcohol and drugs after the death of his grandmother when he was 14, the court heard.

Mrs Lofthouse and Mrs Lovell had grown up together in Ipswich and had stayed in touch. Credit: Christina Lofthouse

Mr Lovell was injured in the attack and received treatment for non-life threatening stab wounds.

Speaking to reporters in Australia in December 2022, he said: "We're all just devastated from her loss. It's senseless. What would people do it for?"

Emma Lovell and her husband, Lee Credit: Family photo

Mrs Lovell’s death prompted outrage across Queensland and was one of many high-profile crimes that saw the state introduce stricter youth crime laws in 2023.

It is now a criminal offence in Queensland if a child breaches bail conditions.

Children as young as 15 can also be fitted with GPS trackers, and the courts now have the authority to declare youths as serious repeat offenders in certain circumstances.

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