Killer Stephen Ansbro carried out what police described as, “a calculated attack” on a woman alone in her home, before trying to cover up his actions.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that concerns were raised for Jane Collinson after her partner was unable to gain access to her flat in an independent living housing complex, Dunelm Court, in Barnard Castle, on Saturday March 4.

The door appeared to have been locked from the inside and after several unsuccessful attempts to contact Ms Collinson, her partner, daughter and son-in-law, forced entry only to discover the 59-year-old blood-stained deceased on the sofa suffering multiple fatal stab injuries.

Police were called and after reviewing CCTV footage from outside of her flat, officers identified her neighbour, Stephen Patrick Ansbro, as being the last person to have seen her alive.

Read more: Watch killer try to mislead police by claiming his victim stabbed him across neck

Footage showed he had gone into the flat at around 11.30am the previous day and spent seven hours inside before appearing to tamper with the door and leave on his mobility scooter that evening.

Officers found Ansbro at his own flat at adjoining Bowes Lyon House with injuries to his neck and arrested him on suspicion of murder.

He later told officers in a pre-prepared statement that he had sustained the injuries after Ms Collinson tried to attack him with a knife, but he managed to escape.

But the court heard he was to give “no comment’ replies for the rest of his police interview.

The evidence, however, did not support his story, with a post-mortem examination revealing Ms Collinson sustained 60 knife wounds, many defence injuries, trying to fend off the blows.

Investigators also identified Ansbro had tampered with the lock from the outside in an attempt to cover up for the fact anyone had been inside Ms Collinson’s home.

He was subsequently charged with murder.

Read more: Stephen Ansbro on cctv outside Jane Collinson's Barnard Castle flat

The 60-year-old was remanded in custody and initially pleaded not guilty but later changed his plea to guilty on a basis of defending himself from Ms Collinson.

By today’s (Monday August 7) sentencing hearing he had dropped that basis and was said to accept the facts as outlined by the prosecution.

Appearing at the court for today’s sentencing hearing Ansbro, formerly known as Stephen Kay, was told by the Recorder of Newcastle, Judge Paul Sloan KC, that the killing was, “a significantly brutal attack”.

He said: “The last moments of her life must have been utterly terrifying and the mental and physical suffering excruciating.”

Ansbro was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder. The judge said he will have to serve at least 18 years in prison for the offence before he is eligible for parole.

It was extended by an additional four years and nine months imposed for four historic sexual offences, 11 months for child cruelty and 14 days for previously breaching his bail conditions.

Those will be served concurrently with each other, but on top of the murder sentence, meaning Ansbro, will be aged more than 80 before he will be eligible to apply for parole.

Detective Superintendent Andy Reynolds, of Durham Police,, said: “This was a calculated attack on a woman in her own home that Ansbro attempted to cover up and blame on the victim.

Read next:

Jane Collinson Barnard Castle murder: killer jailed

Stephen Ansbro accused of Jane Collinson murder in Barnard Castle

Man facing trial for murder of Jane Collinson in Barnard Castle home

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“The investigative work carried out by detectives uncovered the truth, revealing Ansbro’s actions and bringing him to justice.  

“Our thoughts remain with Jane’s family and I would like to thank them for their strength and support during the investigation.

“I hope this conviction can support bringing them some form of closure.”