A FORMER professional cage fighter has been jailed for a minimum of 32 years after being found guilty of the murder of his ex-girlfriend in Billinge.

Violent criminal Andrew Wadsworth, 37, stabbed to death beautician Melissa Belshaw, 32, on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 at her home on Upholland Road, Billinge.

This was two months after he came out of prison consumed by an obsession about her sex life.

Fuelled by cocaine and alcohol, Wadsworth subjected Ms Belshaw to a prolonged attack in her bedroom.

Police were called and found mum-of-one Melissa Belshaw with serious injuries and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

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A passer-by bravely rescued Ms Belshaw's terrified daughter by smashing into the locked house in Billinge, Wigan, with a hammer.

Wadsworth then went out on to the street armed with the same knife and repeatedly stabbed a concerned neighbour who heard the screams coming from the property in Upholland Road.

He was taken to hospital with serious upper body injuries.

He then delivered a roundhouse kick to the head of a police constable at the scene where he was arrested.

Wadsworth, of Cranfield Road, Wigan was arrested and taken in to police custody for questioning where he was charged.

He later punched another officer in the face in a police cell, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Wadsworth admitted stabbing Ms Belshaw but relied on a partial defence to murder of a loss of control following what he claimed was a string of shock revelations about her sex life.

This is video footage of Wadsworth attacking the brave passerby with a knife 

Following a trial, Wadsworth was found guilty of murder and attempted murder.

He was cleared of making a threat to kill against Ms Belshaw's daughter.

He'd previously pleaded guilty to possessing a bladed article and two counts of assaulting police officers.

Today, Thursday, December 3, Wadsworth was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court to life imprisonment, with a minimum of 32 years.

Sentencing him, Mrs Justice Yip said: "At trial, you painted a very negative picture of Ms Belshaw as you set out to shift responsibility away from you and to blame her for what happened. Some of the things you claimed were demonstrably false.

"Your character assassination undoubtedly went beyond anything that was justified. You had degraded her in her life and you continued to do so after her death.

"She may have made some mistakes in her life but at the time of her death she was pursuing her dream of having her own beauty salon. She was still only young and was seeking to turn her life around.

"Sadly, she made a fatal mistake in becoming involved with you and you took her future away."

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Melissa was set to open her own salon before Wadsworth ended her life

The trial heard that Wadsworth regularly accused Ms Belshaw in text messages from September 2019 of cheating on him, including by working as a prostitute.

The judge noted: "You claimed that you had loved her but the numerous derogatory words used in your text messages to her suggest otherwise. By contrast, you appear to have had a very high opinion of yourself. Your messages display a wholly unwarranted air of moral superiority."

Wadsworth came out of prison on licence in November 2017 following a five-year jail sentence for two offences of robbery involving imitation firearms and a 10-year custodial term in 2011 with an extended licence of two years for aggravated burglary and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

He started seeing Ms Belshaw from March 2018 but was recalled to prison in January 2019 after a positive test for cocaine. He was then released again on licence on March 4 this year following a Parole Board hearing.

Wadsworth was sent to live at an approved hostel but was allowed to move to his mother's address just a fortnight later because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mrs Justice Yip commended the bravery of van driver Kevin Moores, 40, who pulled Ms Belshaw's daughter to safety after she courageously rang police and then helped Ms Belshaw's neighbour, Gerard Bristow, 46, break free from Wadsworth's grasp.

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A still from CCTV footage showing the attack in the street following the murder

The judge said Wadsworth had come close to killing Mr Bristow, who suffered wounds to his chest and head, a partially severed right ear and a punctured lung.

A wound to his right shoulder has left him with nerve damage, which has left him unable to exercise and play sport, the court heard.

In a victim personal statement, Ms Belshaw's mother, Jean Mulvaney, said her daughter was a "beautiful soul inside and out, who had a heart of gold and many friends."

She added: "The opening of a new shop was her dream and a turning point for her life."

Senior Investigating Officer Duncan Thorpe, of GMP’s Major Incident Support Unit, said: “I would like to start by saying that our thoughts remain with Melissa’s loved ones - in particular her daughter who witnessed this incident. They are, understandably, devastated by what happened to Melissa.

"Specialist officers have supported them throughout our investigation and this prosecution. I hope today’s result provides them with a sense of justice.

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Floral tributes left at the crime scene

“I would also like to commend the members of the public who tried to intervene. It takes incredible courage to put your own life at risk to save another’s.

“Wadsworth’s attacks on both Melissa and the man were extremely violent. Prison is the right place for him. I thank the investigation team and partner agencies, including the Crown Prosecution Service, for their hard work to ensure that Wadsworth was quickly arrested and has now faced justice. I hope during his time behind bars he spends a significant amount reflecting on his despicable actions."

Melissa's family said: "May 20th 2020 - the day our family lost a mum, daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin and friend. Nothing will ever be the same again. Life as we knew it changed the day that monster took Melissa from us - her life taken in a remorseless attack.

"The complete and utter loss has destroyed our family - we will never come to terms with her death and our hearts will never heal from the sadness and despair that we all feel.

"Every day we think about what happened and we will never understand why Melissa died in such a brutal and senseless way - it is something we will never come to terms with. It breaks our hearts to know that we will never see her again.

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"The trial has been an extremely traumatic experience as we’ve had to sit through every detail of how Melissa was killed.

"The defence continually tried to destroy her memory and showed a total lack of sympathy or sensitivity towards the family and the loss we have suffered.

“Although our hearts are truly broken, the love and support we have had for Melissa gives us the strength to at least try and move forward.

"As a family, we welcome today’s outcome, however it doesn’t bring her back.

“We would like to thank the police and everyone involved for their help and support throughout this investigation, in bringing this case to court as well as getting the conviction and today's sentence.

"Please respect our privacy now at this time."