Mum died after “controlling” partner stabbed her through the heart

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A mum-of-three died in the kitchen of her West Yorkshire home after she was stabbed in the chest by her “controlling” on-off partner, a jury heard today.

Malcolm Cromie, 45, has denied murdering 42-year-old Mahala Rhodes at her home in Rooley Heights, Sowerby, but a jury was told that he had previously assaulted his partner and made threats to kill her.

Prosecutor Jonathan Sharp said the couple had a young daughter but their eight-year relationship was not a good one and in 2008 Cromie had pleaded guilty to assaulting his then pregnant partner.

Mr Sharp said that Cromie made allegations which were clearly untrue and accused his partner of having affairs.

“He claimed she was sleeping with drug dealers in return for drug supplies,” said Mr Sharp.

“He was controlling. He used to check her phone, follow her and he went so far as to stand outside the toilet in their own home to ensure she was alone there.”

Mr Sharp said one of Cromie’s friends thought his attitude towards Miss Rhodes worsened in 2012.

“He was accusing her of tracking his phone, bugging him and drugging him to knock him out while men came into the house,” said Mr Sharp.

“Cromie’s view of Mahala deteriorated to such an extent that he began making threats about her. To several acquaintances he said he would kill her either by shooting or by stabbing.”

Mr Sharp said Cromie sent a text to Miss Rhodes during Christmas 2014 in which he urged her to have the best Christmas ever because it would be her last one.

A few weeks before the stabbing Cromie lost his job and he is alleged to have told a friend that he wanted to get someone to kill Miss Rhodes on his behalf.

Cromie turned up at the house at tea-time on May 6 and during the alleged attack he plunged a kitchen knife into his partner’s chest.

The knife cut through three ribs, passing through the heart and penetrating the victim’s left lung.

Cromie, who has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, is expected to say he was acting in self defence and the stabbing was an accident, but Mr Sharp said a pathologist had concluded that the wound would have required moderate or severe force.

“Mahala also had a defensive wound to her hand indicating that she was trying to fend of an attack with a knife,” said Mr Sharp.

Cromie himself suffered stab wounds to his chest and abdomen, but Mr Sharp alleged that he had a history of blaming Miss Rhodes for self-inflicted injuries.

“The Crown will suggest to you that these injuries were, once again, self-inflicted after the stabbing,” Mr Sharp told the jury.

The jury heard evidence from Miss Rhodes’ 19-year-old son Conor Stephenson who had rushed downstairs to see what was happening.

He said that as he tried to help his mum Cromie told him to “let her die” and added:”******* bitch. She deserved it.”

After his arrest Cromie told officers:”She attacked me.”

In a prepared statement he claimed there had been an argument between them and said that Miss Rhodes had stabbed him two or three times with the knife.

Cromie claimed that they had then wrestled over the knife before he lunged forward and his partner fell back.

During cross-examination by Cromie’s barrister Richard Wright QC Mr Stephenson described the defendant as manipulative and he rejected the suggestion that he might have misheard what was said in the kitchen.

Mr Stephenson recalled an incident in the past when his mum had picked up a knife to try and get Cromie to leave the house, but he said his mother had never been the aggressor.

The trial is expected to last about a week.