Stephen Ansbro handed life sentence for Barnard Castle murder of Jane Collinson

  • Watch Kris Jepson's report

A man murdered a fellow sheltered accommodation resident by slashing her 60 times with a bread knife before trying to make it appear that she had attacked herself, a court heard.

Stephen Ansbro attacked 59-year-old Jane Collinson, who was a grandmother-of-nine, at the complex where they lived in Barnard Castle, County Durham, in March, cutting his own neck afterwards to imply that she had attacked him instead.

The 60-year-old, who has been sentenced to life in prison, then managed to bolt her flat's front door from the outside to try and imply her injuries were self-inflicted and that she had committed suicide.

However, he was caught on CCTV entering Mrs Collinson's flat in his wheelchair before spending seven hours there where he killed her.

  • CCTV footage captured Ansbro entering and leaving Mrs Collinson's flat

The court heard Ansbro had said he would "do time" for Mrs Collinson because she was "getting on his nerves".

At the time of the incident, Ansbro had been under investigation by detectives for unrelated historic sex offences.

He will serve a minimum of 18 years before he can be considered for parole, plus a further four years and nine months for sexual offences he committed against a teenager in the 1990s and a child cruelty offence.

Mark McKone KC, prosecuting, said Mrs Collinson made several complaints to accommodation management about Ansbro, who had lived in the building for five years.

She had also written to the son of another resident, warning them that he had been getting "too close" to the resident.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that Ansbro found out about the letter and clashed with Mrs Collinson. A witness told police that he said “he would do time for her and he would kill her because she was getting on his nerves.”

CCTV showed him using his electric wheelchair to visit Mrs Collinson around noon on 3 March this year.

He would spend the next seven hours at her flat, slashing her with a 20cm-long bread knife 59 times and stabbing her once. He also punched and slapped her.

Mrs Collinson suffered defensive injuries and almost lost two fingers in the attack before she bled to death. She was found by family members the next day.

Ansbro pleaded guilty to murder and murder and the unrelated indecent assault charges.

Stephen Ansbro was sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court. Credit: NCJ MEDIA

In a victim statement, Mr Collinson said his life changed for the better when he met his wife in 2014, and he became part of her wider family.

The married in 2019 and had found a dream house which they intended to buy and they planned a future together.

Her daughters said that Mrs Collinson loved get-togethers, would sing and dance and was the heart of their family.

One, who asked not to be named, said: “Even now, five months after her death, I still feel numb, empty and at a loss.”

Peter Moulson KC, defending, said Ansbro, who has 62 previous convictions, including two for robbery, had demonstrated his remorse with his guilty pleas.

Passing sentence, Judge Paul Sloan KC said: “During the course of that seven-hour period you attacked Jane Collinson in her own home.

“It was a sustained an particularly brutal attack.”

He said Ansbro had tried to hamper the investigation by bolting her door from the outside and slashing his own neck.

He added: “You had harboured violent thoughts towards Jane Collinson in the past.”

Simon Turner, Detective Inspector of Durham Constabulary Major Crime Team, said: "Today sees the conviction of a violent and devious man who murdered Jane Collinson in her own home.

"He sought to cover up his horrendous crime by manipulating those around him and attempting to cover up being in Jane's home that day.

"Stephen Ansbro passed the blame to his victim. The work by the Durham Police Major Crime team uncovered his lies and revealed the truth.

"Our thoughts remain with Jane's family and we would like to thank them for the strength and support that they have shown during this investigation. I hope today's conviction can start to bring them some form of closure."

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