AN “EVIL and cowardly” killer who knifed his estranged wife to death after subjecting her to years of terrifying violence will spend at least 20 years behind bars for her cold-blooded murder.
George Gallagher, aged 56, fatally stabbed 41-year-old Julie Gallagher in her home on Foljambe Road, Eastwood, Rotherham, following a sinister campaign of stalking and vicious beatings.
Julie’s blood-soaked body was found on the settee last March by her horrified sister Deborah Bradshaw.
She described Gallagher as a “dominating and controlling man” who has shown no remorse for his crime.
Gallagher sought to control Julie’s life even after death. Following his arrest on suspicion of her murder, he cancelled the funeral her relatives had organised for her and arranged another - burying the body against family wishes for Julie to be cremated.
Her family are now calling for the law to be changed so a similar situation can never occur again.
Sheffield Crown Court heard wife-beater Gallagher had previously assaulted three former partners.
Judge Mrs Justice Rafferty called the murder a “dreadful deed”, and told Gallagher: “Your violence against women culminated in the loss of life of Julie Gallagher, who had already endured misery at your hands for years.”
She read an emotional statement from Julie’s mother Barbara Earl which said: “We have forgotten about the happy times, and are left with painful memories of Julie’s death.
“It’s as though her former years didn’t exist.
“The worst day of Julie’s life was when she met George Gallagher. Allowing him into her life began her true suffering - suffering at the hands of an evil, cowardly man.
“All she ever wanted was to be loved, but she chose an animal who manipulated and abused her.”
The jury of six men and six women took almost nine-and-a-half hours to convict Gallagher of murder by a majority of 10 to two. They returned a unanimous guilty verdict on a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The killer watched impassively as the verdicts were read out.
Gallagher’s last attack on Julie before the murder came in November 2009, when he punched her in the face and dragged her by her hair out of the marital home on Eldon Road, Eastwood.
Mrs Justice Rafferty described Gallagher - who denied murder - as “a nasty bully with an unpredictable temper”.
“The Crown was right to describe you as a man who set to dominate and control a partner and, once there was a separation, to stalk her,” she said.
“Like most bullies you are a coward, which means you were not even man enough to face up to the overwhelming case against you.
“I’m not quite sure you went equipped with a knife. I’m absolutely sure you are capable of it.
“There is only one sentence - that is that you go to prison for life.”
Nick Clarke QC, prosecuting, said Gallagher carried the knife to Foljambe Road with “murderous intent”.
Gallagher will serve a minimum of 20 years in jail, minus 228 days already spent in custody, before he is considered for release. The judge said it was “not necessary” to impose a separate penalty for the assault.
The judge said jurors sat through “four harrowing weeks” of evidence, and took “evident care” over their verdicts.