Man who stabbed Nottinghamshire mum-of-three to death jailed for life

Peter Bearne reports.

A man in his 20s has been jailed for life after he cycled 17 miles to brutally murder a mother-of-three who he met on a dating website.

John Jessop, of Sherwood Avenue, Newark, pleaded guilty to Clair Ablewhite's murder in October, after initially denying charges against him.

Ms Ablewhite, who was 47, suffered multiple stab wounds at her home in Hall Lane, Colston Bassett, in Nottinghamshire, on the evening of Friday 25 February 2022.

Jessop was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 17 years and 8 months minus time already served on remand for the murder Ms Ablewhite at Nottingham Crown Court today (January 4).

Ms Ablewhite moved to Colston Bassett in January last year to start a new life and dog walking and boarding business after her marriage with her husband ended.

The pair shared three sons, two of whom have previously described their mum as "one in a million".

Clair Ablewhite leaves behind three sons Credit: Nottinghamshire Police

Her friends and clients described her as “sociable, well-liked, and would stop and talk to anyone.”

Police investigations found Ms Ablewhite had been using a dating website when she moved to Colston Bassett.

After scanning Whatsapp messages, officers found evidence Jessop had been in contact with the 47-year-old and had been the only one not to come forward to assist police with the investigation.

The pair started an intimate relationship in September 2021. It ended February 19, 2022, just days before her death.

Detective Inspector Mel Crutchley of Nottinghamshire Police said the relationship had ended "mainly due to concern over the age difference", however added it was clear Jessop had been to Ms Ablewhite's address - 17 miles away.

In a statement, she said: "Throughout this investigation, Jessop has shown no remorse for what he did to Clair.

"He has consistently provided ‘no comment’ in interviews and offered up no apology.

"The attack he inflicted on Clair was brutal and relentless, causing catastrophic injuries which finally led to her death.

"At the same time that Clair’s dad discovers his daughter’s body and tries to provide CPR - Jessop is enjoying his first pint in a pub in Newark with mates.

"This was a premeditated attack.

"He has taken away a loving, caring, and outgoing mum, daughter, sister, and friend to many.

"Today’s sentence will never bring back Clair, but it does mean that Jessop will spend a considerable part of his life behind prison bars, and I hope this gives her family some comfort."

CCTV footage captured Jessop's 17-mile cycle from his home in Newark to Colston Bassett.

In the footage, which was released by Nottinghamshire Police, multiple security cameras showed Jessop cycling towards Ms Ablewhite's home.

Police were able to identify and link Jessop's clothing and bike to other CCTV footage after he stopped to buy a pasty on the way to the Rushcliffe village.

Jessop was caught stashing his bike in a nearby bush, and then walking along Hall Lane, near Ms Ablewhite’s house, moments before he stabbed the mother-of-three in her home.

Police say CCTV from Ms Ablewhite’s neighbour had captured audio from the fatal attack before he was seen retrieving his bike and making the 17-mile cycle back to Newark.

Grainy CCTV showed Jessop walking along Hall Lane the night Ms Ablewhite was murdered. Credit: Nottinghamshire Police

Jessop is said to have left his mobile phone at home whilst on his journey and paid in cash at a shop in an attempt to cover his tracks.

Jessop was arrested and charged shortly after Ms Ablewhite was found at her home in February. Police body cam footage captured Jessop’s arrest while he was at work.

He will spend life in prison after pleading guilty.