Murder accused wanted to ‘settle down’ with victim

Dawn Backhouse - murder victim from Walkley
Dawn Backhouse - murder victim from Walkley
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A MAN accused of knifing a mum-of-three to death at her Sheffield home told a jury he ‘loved’ his alleged victim - and in the weeks before her death they were planning to settle down and start a family together.

Mark Hatter, aged 44, is accused of fatally stabbing 31-year-old Dawn Backhouse through the heart with a chef’s knife in her kitchen at Langsett Grove, Walkley.

The prosecution say jealous Hatter killed Dawn in June to stop her leaving Sheffield and starting a new relationship.

But the alleged murderer told Sheffield Crown Court he was set to move away with Dawn and her two young daughters, Hannah and Stephanie, to her home town of Maidstone, Kent.

Hatter told the jury Dawn tried to stab herself after they discussed paying for an operation to enable her to have a baby with him after she had undergone a sterilisation.

He said he’d suggested Dawn make a contribution towards the £3,500 procedure.

Hatter told jurors Dawn reached to the kitchen table for a knife which he’d previously brought to the house to help cut up carpets.

He said Dawn asked him, ‘Do you want blood?’ before making a ‘violin motion’ against her arm with the knife.

“To this day I think she was just messing about,” he said, adding she made a noise as though in pain.

“It sounded as if it was a shock. I knew something wasn’t right.”

Hatter said he reached out with both hands towards Dawn to grab the knife.

“She got stabbed in the chest. I held Dawn’s hands and Dawn had hold of the knife. That’s how it happened.”

Hatter said Dawn was stabbed in a ‘split second’ and afterwards she slumped on a chair before he moved her to the floor.

Breaking down in tears, he said: “I was holding her. She said, ‘I think I’m going to die’. So I said, ‘Do you want me to come with you? I will not leave you.’

“She said, ‘Yes, I don’t want to go on my own’. I just stabbed myself straight in the chest to be with Dawn.”

Dawn died shortly afterwards, and he underwent emergency surgery to save his life.

Hatter admitted saying ‘Die, die’ - but said he was giving himself ‘Dutch courage’ to stab himself.

Jurors were previously told a neighbour heard Hatter say, ‘Look at what you made me do’, after knifing Dawn.

But Hatter, who denies murder, told the court he used the phrase after they argued over paying for the sterilisation reversal.

Hatter said he went to Dawn’s after she invited him to ‘pop round’ on the phone while he was in the pub.

He said he ‘nipped home’ to Hammerton Road, Hillsborough, to pick up pre-rolled cigarettes, before climbing into Dawn’s house via an upstairs window, despite having a key.

Hatter said he’d previously entered the house in the same way while trying to make Dawn’s daughters jump.

“I had no reason to take a knife across there that night,” he said.

“I was in love with Dawn. I saw it as a relationship in progress, both of us being partners together.”

He told the jury he ‘idolised’ Hannah and Stephanie, and ‘lavished’ the family with gifts using £20,000 left to him in his late sister’s will.

Hatter - who trained in catering before working as a labourer, carpet salesman and warehouse operative - said his partner of 20 years Jennifer Stothard didn’t want children.

“It’s all I ever wanted,” he said.

The trial continues.