Husband, 49, stabbed mother-of-three, 38, pleads guilty to her murder 


A man who took two knives from his socks and stabbed his wife to death in the grounds of a derelict mental hospital has pleaded guilty to her murder.

Michael Cowey, 49, lured mother-of-three Gemma to a meeting saying he wanted to talk at the former site of St Andrew’s Hospital in Norwich, Norfolk.

But he instead confronted her about relationship issues which caused the pair to argue.

Cowey told police how he then took two kitchen knives hidden in his socks and stabbed her more than 20 times in her back and neck before running off.

Emergency services, including the air ambulance, were called after members of the public found her with serious injuries in a derelict building, believed to be the old hospital mortuary.

Despite treatment Gemma, who was described by her family as ‘beautiful’ and a ‘devoted’ mother to her three children, was pronounced dead at the scene on June 19 earlier this year.

Gemma Cowey

Michael Cowey, 49, who stabbed wife Gemma (right) to death in the grounds of a derelict mental hospital, has pleaded guilty to her murder

Cowey had lured the mother-of-three to a meeting saying he wanted to talk at the former site of St Andrew's Hospital (pictured) in Norwich, Norfolk

Cowey had lured the mother-of-three to a meeting saying he wanted to talk at the former site of St Andrew’s Hospital (pictured) in Norwich, Norfolk 

A Home Office post mortem examination found that she had died as a result of stab wounds.

Cowey was arrested three hours later that day 120 miles away in Warwickshire and was taken back to Norfolk for questioning. 

He made a number of admissions claiming to have been responsible for Gemma’s death.

He pleaded guilty to her murder and to the possession of the two knives at Norwich Crown Court today.

Cowey had previously been deemed unfit to enter pleas but a psychiatric report concluded he was able to do so.

He was told by Judge Anthony Bate that he will be sentenced by a high court judge on December 11.

Ms Cowey’s mother Lina Smith, who was in court, said after the hearing: ‘We, Gemma’s family, state that today’s guilty plea hearing in the Norwich Crown Court is the outcome that we were hoping for.

‘We are now gearing up for the maximum sentence possible which will go some way to help us with the horror of what happened to our Gemma. No sentence will ever be enough.’ 

The mother-of-three was also known as Gemma Marjoram

Ms Cowey was previously described as 'a beautiful girl' and 'devoted' mother by her heartbroken family

The mother-of-three, who was also known as Gemma Marjoram, was previously described as ‘a beautiful girl’ and ‘devoted’ mother by her heartbroken family

Emergency services, including the air ambulance, were called after members of the public found her with serious injuries in a derelict building (pictured) - believed to be the old hospital mortuary

Emergency services, including the air ambulance, were called after members of the public found her with serious injuries in a derelict building (pictured) – believed to be the old hospital mortuary

An earlier family statement said: ‘Our beautiful girl, Gemma Lynne Marjoram, was cruelly taken from our lives on Friday, June 19.

‘Gemma, a devoted mummy to three children, Kacie, Callum and Abigail. Loving big sister to Joanne and Kimberley. We are beyond heartbroken. We have no more words.’

Detective Inspector Lewis Craske from the Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team (MIT) said: ‘It was a cowardly attack which was planned by the fact he took two knives to the scene.

‘Although Cowey has saved the family the trauma of a trial his plea has been forced upon him due to the thorough investigation in to the circumstances of this offence and his previous relationships.’

The scrubland in the area where Ms Cowey was found is known to be popular with dog walkers and joggers.

St Andrew’s Hospital which was originally known as the Norfolk County Asylum dates back to the early 19th century.

It was closed in April 1998, and some of the original Grade II listed buildings were converted into private housing.

The main building St Andrews House was used as offices by the Norfolk Primary Care Trust until 2007, and put up for sale in January 2011.

Plans have been mooted to turn the site into a new business park, but it has been left to slowly decay in recent years.

Ghost hunters and urban explorers have repeatedly filmed the vandalised interior of the building in recent years and posted their videos on YouTube.

The site is next door to the current Northside House mental health clinic run by the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation NHS Trust.

Ms Cowey, also known as Gemma Lynne Marjoram, had been employed as a customer service advisor and had lived in the Heartsease area of Norwich.

A Home Office post mortem examination established she died as a result of hypovolemic shock and stab wounds to the neck and chest.

Sophie Baldwin, a former school friend of Ms Cowey, launched a crowdfunding appeal to help pay for her funeral.

It reached its £5,000 target within three days and saw a total of £6,787 raised.

Miss Baldwin was ‘amazed’ by the number of people who had donated.

She said: ‘Thank you for your help and support – we have done a fantastic job in raising this much. Please, please keep sharing.’

Miss Baldwin had hoped to exceed the target so that any money left over after the funeral could go to Ms Cowey’s children.

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