A chef who knifed his ex-girlfriend to death in a frenzied rage was today ordered to spend at least five more years in jail.
Conor Doyle, 23, had his minimum prison term increased from 10 years to 15 at the Northern Ireland Appeal Court after a campaign by his victim’s family.
Doyle stabbed Angela Snoddy, 21, up to 75 times following an alcohol-fuelled row at her home near Belfast in October 2002.
With the mother of two’s relatives outraged by the length of time Doyle, of Limestone Road, north Belfast, must serve behind bars before being considered for parole, the Attorney General sent the case to the three appeal judges.
Deciding that the original tariff set on the life sentence for murder was too lenient, the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Brian Kerr, said: “What is clear, beyond question, is that she was the victim of a horrendous, sustained attack in which a number of knives were used.”
Doyle and Ms Snoddy had a stormy 18-month relationship leading up to the brutal murder.
Their baby son was just seven weeks old, while the victim also had a three-year-old daughter at the time of the killing.
Doyle had been out drinking heavily before driving in his father’s car to his former partner’s home at Whiteabbey where the attack took place.
Police later found Doyle covered in blood after being called to a car crash in a nearby housing estate.
In court it was said that the killer declared: “I have killed her, she will not take my child away from me.”
He also remarked callously: “At least I will see my child in 20 years’ time. She won’t.”
As he sat in the dock, wearing a blue shirt and tie, head bowed and expressionless, the judges told him that such extreme violence against women must be heavily punished.
The Lord Chief Justice said: “The victim in this case was, in our view, extremely vulnerable. She was a young woman living alone who was no match in physical strength to the offender.
“She would have been quite unable to defend herself against the ferocity of his attack on her. Like many unfortunate women she was at the mercy of a male partner of superior strength.”
Outside the court, the victim's mother, Helen Snoddy, insisted Doyle should have got even longer but expressed relief that the length of time he would be locked up had been extended.
She said: “Fifteen years sits better with me than 10. It sends a better message out to the violent men that have the murder of their partners on their minds. The courts won’t tolerate it.
“Obviously 15 years wouldn’t be long enough for my child’s life, but there isn’t a judge in the land who could give Conor Doyle long enough.”
Mrs Snoddy added that she can now spend more time with her grandchildren without living in dread of his release.
“It lets me get on without worrying about Conor Doyle getting out in another eight years’ time,” she said.
But she added: “That fear will never leave me of Conor Doyle, when he gets out, coming after me and my family.”