Builder jailed for life for murdering ex-wife with an axe because she was selling family home


A builder has been jailed for life for striking to death his ex with an axe after finding out she was selling their family home.

Stephen Booth, 64, plotted to kill his ex-wife, healthcare assistant Susan Booth, 62, after learning through his solicitor the family home he had built in Shaw, near Oldham, was to be sold for more than £450,000 within days.

He lay in wait at the home they had shared until their split three years earlier and struck her from behind with an axe when she came home from a shift at Royal Oldham Hospital.

She suffered catastrophic injuries and died a short time after being rushed back to the hospital where she worked.

Today Stephen Booth was handed a life sentence and told he would a serve a minimum 22-and-a-half years behind bars after he pleaded guilty to murder.

Pictured: Builder Stephen Booth has been jailed for life for killing his ex with an axe after finding out she was selling their family home in Greater Manchester following their separation

The court was Susan Booth returned to her home on Hillside Avenue in Shaw on May 4 this year after completing her shift as a healthcare assistant at Royal Oldham.

Her ex-husband, Stephen Booth, of Churchfields, Audenshaw, called police and confessed to killing her.

Investigators pieced together how Booth had decided to kill his ex-wife after receiving a call from his solicitor, informing him the sale of the couple’s family home, where he then lived, would be completed in a matter of days, for over £450,000.

The couple had separated in 2017.

Pictured: Susan Booth died from catastrophic injuries after her ex attacked her with an axe

Pictured: Susan Booth died from catastrophic injuries after her ex attacked her with an axe

Later that day, Stephen Booth travelled to Hillside Avenue, Shaw, where Susan had moved to following their separation, knowing she would soon return from her shift at work.

As Susan arrived home and left her car, Booth, without warning or conversation, struck her from behind repeatedly with an axe, causing catastrophic head injuries.

Susan was rushed to Royal Oldham Hospital, where she was pronounced dead a short time later.

Stephen Booth then called police to report the murder and left the scene, calling back shortly after to confess to killing his ex-wife.

Booth was arrested at his address and taken to Ashton-Under-Lyne police station for questioning, where he told detectives of the events leading up to the killing.

He said he hadn’t seen his ex-wife for two years before attacking her.

His motive had centred around the sale of the family home, which Booth, a builder by profession, had built himself.

Stephen Booth attacked Susan at her new home. Pictured: Police on scene after she was killed

Stephen Booth attacked Susan at her new home. Pictured: Police on scene after she was killed

Booth told police (pictured on the scene of the attack) that he had not seen Susan for two years prior to his deadly attack but had plotted to harm her after learning she was selling his house

Booth told police (pictured on the scene of the attack) that he had not seen Susan for two years prior to his deadly attack but had plotted to harm her after learning she was selling his house

The sale of the property, for £452,000, prompted him to plan the killing, telling detectives he had nowhere else to live.

Booth was sentenced to life, with a minimum of 22 years at Manchester Crown Court after pleading guilty to the murder of Susan Booth.

After the hearing, Susan’s family described her as ‘the epitome of caring’.

In a statement, the family said: ‘Mum was the epitome of caring, both in her professional and personal life.

‘If you knew her, you would have known that nothing was too much trouble, and she would help anyone who needed it.

‘She was dedicated to her three grandchildren, who were the light of her life and will be deeply missed by all of us.’

Senior Investigating Officer, Duncan Thorpe, of Greater Manchester Police’s Serious Crime Division, said: ‘This was a tragic event where a family has lost a cherished mother and grandmother.

‘It is a complex and saddening case, and our specially trained officers are continuing to support the Booth family. Our thoughts and sympathies remain with them.’

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