Marcus Osborne given whole life order for murdering ex-partner and new boyfriend

Marcus Osbourne, Katie Higton and Steven Harnett
Marcus Osborne inflicted more than 100 injuries on Katie Higton and Steven Harnett. Credit: West Yorkshire Police
  • Warning: This article contains distressing details.

A "monster" who murdered his ex-partner and her new boyfriend and mutilated their bodies out of "sexual jealousy" has been told he will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Marcus Osborne, 35, carried out a "ferocious, merciless and sustained" attack on 27-year-old Katie Higton and her partner Steven Harnett, 25, at a property in Huddersfield on 15 May last year.

Ms Higton suffered 99 injuries, including 26 knife wounds to her face.

Mr Harnett was stabbed or slashed 24 times, Leeds Crown Court was told. Osborne cut off his genitals.

Handing him a whole life order, the judge, Mrs Justice Lambert, told Osborne: "The motivation for both killings was sexual in nature. Both were driven by your sexual jealousy.

"You killed Katie and Steven because you believed they had started seeing each other and their relationship was an intimate one."

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She added: "You were pathologically jealous of that relationship.

"I am sure you also engaged in sexual activity when Katie was either dead or dying."

Osborne had previously told Ms Higton he would "end her fully".

The judge said the decision to hand down a whole life sentence was "rare... and reserved for only the most extreme cases".

"What you did that night was horrific," she added.

The judge imposed 10-year concurrent sentences for the rape and false imprisonment of another woman who was in the house at the time.

A family member shouted "I hope you rot in hell" from the public gallery as Osborne was taken away.

Abusive history

During a two-day sentencing hearing the court was told Ms Higton was abused by Osborne during their five-year relationship. She left him in early May after an assault on 28 April.

She later told police the relationship had become "coercive, controlling and physically abusive" in the last two years and that she had been regularly assaulted, including one incident when he threw a cat at her, the court heard.

In the days before the murders, Ms Higton told West Yorkshire Police Osborne had warned her he would "slit her throat if she said what he had done", and "if she ever got a boyfriend he would kill them both".

Three days before the killings Osborne was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence offences and bailed with conditions not to go back to their home, but he spied on her over the following days.

The court heard he found out about the developing relationship between Ms Higton and Mr Harnett by hacking into her Snapchat account.

On the night of the murders he took a taxi to the house on Harpe Inge and launched a brutal attack as soon as Ms Higton came through the door.

He then used Ms Higton’s phone to pretend to be her and lure Mr Harnett, 25, to the house.

Osborne raped another woman, who he had held captive in the house overnight, at knifepoint.

The court heard four children were in the house during the murders.

Bodycam footage released by West Yorkshire Police showed Osborne being arrested later the same day.

Prosecutor Jonathan Sandiford KC told the court: "The defendant committed a premeditated and brutal double murder motivated by sexual jealousy, a desire to exercise control over Katie Higton, an unwillingness to accept her decision to leave him and her freedom to form a relationship with another man."

Osborne has convictions for violent offences against two previous partners in 2011 and 2012.


In a statement Ms Higton's family said she was a "shining, beautiful and deeply caring soul".

"Her loss has left a huge, gaping hole in the lives of her family and friends. We all continue to suffer from having her so brutally taken from us."

They added: "There is much we could say about the monster who took Katie from us.

"A man, if he can be called that, whose name does not deserve to even be mentioned within the same breath as hers. His sentencing today will not change the life sentence of loss he has inflicted upon us all.

"No family should have to endure what we have suffered, but the kind words have helped as we strive to remember the woman who was our world, and who touched the worlds of so many around her."

Det Supt Alan Weekes said Osborne's crimes were "some of the worst myself and other experienced homicide detectives have investigated in our careers".

He added: “Osborne’s attacks on his victims were savage but also chillingly calculated in their execution. His behaviour can only be described as truly monstrous."

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