Every third day, in our #EveryThreeDays campaign, I write about a woman killed by a man. Previously this month, I have written about Sohbia Khan, Chrissie Azzopardi, Jacqueline Barratt, Anne Dunkley, Jo Cox MP, Christine Chambers and Nadia Khan.
Today we remember two women killed by the same man in the sleepy north Devon town of Barnstaple; Debbie Langmead and Donna St John.
Both victims were aged just 35 with two young children, and Debbie was married to one Neil Langmead, who worked as a builder. On the surface, at least in the early days, the marriage seemed normal and loving, but over time, Neil Langmead started to bully Debbie, becoming what was later described as a "control freak."
Debbie reached breaking point and started divorce proceedings, but her husband could not accept their marriage was to end. Her husband increased his abuse, and after Debbie complained to the Police, he was told to stop harassing her.
Fearing for her safety and attack, Debbie increased her security, but one night she was lulled by her Neil Langmead to go out together. She agreed but decided to take her best friend Donna St John. Returning to Debbie's home, an argument broke out, resulting in Debbie & Donna being stabbed multiple times. Both died within inches of each other.
Langmead alleged that Debbie & Donna killed each other during a catfight and that he suffered stab wounds trying to intervene. The Police did not believe his story; both women had been sexually assaulted, and subsequently, he was charged with murder, and in June 2011, his case came to trial at Exeter Crown Court. After a thirteen-day trial, he was found guilty as charged and sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of thirty years with the judge saying:
“Both women were in their 30s, both had two children, both were entirely innocent, neither had done anything at all that could begin to justify what you did to them. In your evidence, you blamed the woman you claimed to love, Deborah, for the death of Donna and moved on to attack yourself.”
The judge said his account was a “tissue of lies,” adding "it was to his lasting discredit that he tried to blame Debbie."
Speaking after the verdict, Debbie’s mother Caroline Hooper said "there were no words powerful enough to describe the pain and anguish they felt at the cruel, evil way she was taken from them. She was a beautiful young woman, kind, loving and loved life - Debbie was an inspiration to us as a family, to her friends and especially to her children who were her world. She loved and adored them. The sadness we feel is that Debbie is no longer with us is, at times, almost too hard to bear.
Debbie Langmead and Donna St John.
Authored By Steph @PlaceSteph