Teen who strangled girlfriend to death as she screamed for help from flat window jailed for life

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Courtney Boorne was heard screaming for help out of a 14th floor flat window. Credit: Liverpool Echo

A teenager who strangled his girlfriend to death just moments after she was heard screaming out of the window of the couple's 14th storey flat has been jailed for life.

Courtney Boorne was left "defenceless... terrified and calling for help" during the attack in Kirkby, Liverpool, by Liam Cain, 19, who murdered her after attacking her inside the apartment.

The 20-year-old was seen screaming for help "and climbing onto the window ledge" in an attempt to get away from Cain, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

Cain was found unanimously guilty of murder after one hour and nine minutes of deliberations, and during his trial had tried to blame Courtney for attacking him.

He showed no reaction as he was told he must serve at least 17 years in jail before becoming eligible for release on life licence, while Ms Boorne's family sat tearfully in the public gallery.

Sentencing Cain, who appeared via video link, Judge Brian Cummings KC said he had shown no remorse.

He said: "I am entirely satisfied that, for a period of an hour or more, she was in a state of fear for her life as you on at least two occasions - and probably more - strangled and or smothered her, ultimately to death.

"The picture I have is of a defenceless woman terrified and calling for help before you eventually strangled or choked her to death on the bed - her final moments don’t bear thinking about.

"I cannot accept you have shown any meaningful remorse. Remorse being sorry for what you have done.

"You can’t be sorry for what you’ve done if you’re denying you’ve done anything wrong.

"Especially when that involves blaming the victim and making derogatory accusations about her character.

“I completely reject that Courtney Boorne attacked you. You were the attacker and she was the victim, pure and simple.

“It gives me no pleasure whatsoever to have to impose what is a very severe sentence on someone as young as you.

"The fact I must do so flows from the gravity of the offence you have committed.

"Your life will be forever blighted by what you have done. At least you have your life.

"Your victim has none. The years she had ahead of her are forever gone.”

Liam Cain has been sentenced to life for the murder of Courtney Boorne. Credit: Liverpool Echo

Liverpool Crown Court previously heard that Courtney phoned her mum Cheryl at around 3.30pm on 23 December 2022.

During the call she told her mother "if she didn't hear from her within an hour to call the police, because something was going on".

Around an hour later, a neighbour rang 999 reporting that she could see a woman in an apartment opposite "screaming and climbing onto the window ledge".

During the prosecution's opening Gordon Cole KC told the court: "She said that the female appeared to be shouting at someone inside the flat.

"Courtney Boorne was heard to shout 'please'. She was crying and she was shouting, 'he has all the doors locked and he won't let me out'."

Another witness also called the police to "report a female shouting out of the window, screaming, shouting 'call the police, he's choking me'".

Mr Cole said: "She was described as screaming, and the window was then closed.

"What they couldn't see, of course, was what was going on inside the flat. The only two people inside the flat were Courtney Boorne and this defendant."

Officers then attended the top floor property "very quickly" and had to force entry upon their arrival shortly before 5pm.

They found Courtney unconscious on a bed in the bedroom with "visible marks to her neck".

She was rushed to Aintree Hospital, but she died at 7.02pm. A post-mortem investigation later found that she had suffered a cardiac arrest "because of the asphyxia, the strangulation, the smothering of her by this defendant".

Cain was arrested after being found "crouched down, leaning on an armchair in the living room" with "scratch marks" on his head and face.

He had sent a text to his dad saying: "I love you the world, everyone. I'm so sorry. Tell everyone."

During his trial, Cain attempted to blame his victim for the vicious assault.

He claimed that he had acted in self-defence after Courtney attacked him, first hitting him in the head with a plant pot before setting about him with a brush and a knife.

But his account had glaring inconsistencies.

He claimed that Courtney had become furious after he had received a series of phone calls from an unknown number, which apparently led her to become suspicious and demand that he hand over his mobile.

However, records showed that Cain had received no such contact that afternoon.

The flats in Kirkby where Courtney Boorne was killed Credit: Liverpool Echo

After the sentencing Courtney's mum Cheryl Boorne said she was trying to hold the family together following their loss.

She said: “I now live day-to-day and do not stop, so I don’t have to think of what happened to her. I always have people around me as I don’t want to be on my own and it keeps my mind occupied.

“My family have been a great support and keeping me busy so that I can carry on. I have no choice as my children need their mum, they have suffered enough with their sister, who they loved so much, taken away from them.

“Courtney has six siblings and the three youngest siblings have been receiving counselling due to them struggling to understand why she is not coming home.

“One of her siblings has stopped going to school and is struggling with his emotions with Courtney not being here.

“My other child suffers from nightmares but doesn’t understand that Courtney won’t be home. Another one now has angry outbursts and gets upset easily.

"Then my youngest child is too young to understand and ask when she is coming back and to bring his birthday present. How do a tell a six-year-old child that he will never see his sister again?

“Liam has destroyed our lives as he has taken Courtney away from us. Courtney was the heart and soul of this family and was precious to us all.

"I miss hearing her voice, I miss her singing in the kitchen trying to sing the high notes. I miss our phone calls and hearing her laugh. I miss our days out and seeing her play with her younger siblings. I am trying to hold my family together. Courtney will never be forgotten.”

Police outside the Quarry Green Heights Credit: Liverpool Echo

Detective Inspector Laura Lamping said: “Courtney was only 20-years-old and had her whole life ahead of her, this was cruelly cut short.

“The devasting impact Courtney’s murder has had on the family has been insurmountable, and for them having to sit through the trial has been incredible traumatic. But they have remained composed and shown dignity while having to listen to the horrific event that night.

“Throughout the trial Cain denied murdering her, claiming he acted in self-defence. However, with the strong evidence against him the jury found this to be untrue and found him guilty.

“Courtney had sustained a terrifying ordeal on the night of her murder. During the investigation Courtney’s family and friends had told us that she wanted to end the relationship with Cain and move on in her life.

“Courtney was a really hard-working girl – she juggled three jobs to make a living. On the day of her murder, she was up at 6am and at work to one of her jobs as a carer. The other two jobs she died were hairdressing and as a housekeeper.

“Her senseless murder has been really difficult for the family. She was killed the day before Christmas Eve, which for any family is an awful time when she should have been enjoying the festive period with her family and friends.

“Nothing will bring Courtney back to her family, and no sentence can change what Cain did to her but I hope some they have some comfort in knowing that he has been brought to justice and paying for his crime.”