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Poppy Devey Waterhouse: Man jailed for stabbing ex-girlfriend to death in ‘jealousy-fuelled’ attack | UK News



The ex-boyfriend of a “prodigiously talented” maths graduate has been jailed for life with a minimum of 15 years after admitting her murder.

Joe Atkinson, 25, pleaded guilty to stabbing Poppy Devey Waterhouse to death in an attack “fuelled by jealousy” at a block of flats in Leeds last year.

The parents of Ms Devey Waterhouse read a series of emotional victim impact statements in court, describing how her death left behind a “dense, grey fog”.

Prosecutors said Atkinson had failed to come to terms with Ms Devey Waterhouse breaking off their three-year relationship, which ended in October 2018.

In the early hours of 14 December, Atkinson burst into the flat he still shared with his former girlfriend and used a kitchen knife to inflict more than 100 separate injuries.

The attack started in the victim’s bedroom before moving into the hallway, where she attempted to escape through the front door.

Ms Devey Waterhouse suffered 49 knife injuries and 23 stab wounds all over her body during the assault.

Emergency services arrived at the flat after receiving reports of an “assault by stabbing” and found the 24-year-old in a pool of blood. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The victim’s mother, Julie Devey, broke into tears as she spoke about her ordeal in court.

She said: “The future does not exist to me any more, all I can see is a dense, grey fog that continues forever. I see no way out.

Joe Atkinson was tried at Leeds Crown Court
Joe Atkinson was tried at Leeds Crown Court

“This is no story. This is no fiction. This is real life, this is my daughter’s – my own daughter’s – savage and brutal death.”

Ms Devey continued: “As a parent, my basic duty is to make sure that I keep my children safe.

“I failed, and I have to carry that failure with me at all times, wherever I go, whoever I am with, whatever I am doing.”

Describing her reaction to her daughter’s death, she said: “I kept scraping my hands across the floor boards where she had been left screaming and dying.

“I just wanted to scoop her up and save her.”

The victim’s father, Rupert Waterhouse, said: “How can a picture of my daughter, smiling at me with her brown eyes, hurt me so deeply? This is my life sentence. Ours is a family of four minus one.”

Atkinson initially denied murder, but later reversed his plea.

In a police interview following the killing, he told officers: “I don’t know how many times I stabbed her, I just didn’t stop until it went calm and she stopped moving.”

Prosecutor Jason Pitter told the court how the 25-year-old “armed himself with a kitchen knife and murdered Poppy in an unprovoked attack fuelled by jealousy”.

He added: “Poppy Devey Waterhouse was a prodigiously talented mathematician, who was described as brilliant and beautiful who, at the age of 24, had her whole life ahead of her.

“It was a life cruelly taken away from her just before Christmas last year, because this defendant realised he was not going to be a part of this future.”

Atkinson and Ms Devey Waterhouse met while studying at Nottingham University.

Ms Devey Waterhouse, who was originally from Frome in Somerset, worked as an analyst for William Hill.

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