Every three days, in our #EveryThreeDays campaign we remember a woman killed by a man. Previously, this month we have remembered Suzanne Pilley, Raheela Shariff, Louise Smith, Claire Parry, Natalie Hemming and Jessica Patel.
Today May 20th, we tell the story of Melissa Belshaw, who was savagely murdered precisely one year ago today in her home in Upholland Road, Orrell approx three miles to the west of Wigan. Orrell is primarily a residential area with a beautiful water park that attracts many visitors. It certainly does not appear to be a hotbed of crime, but sadly it did attract one, Andrew Wadsworth, who had a horrific criminal history. The St Helens Reporter said this about an attack Wadsworth committed in August 2009 :
"Wadsworth, 27, who was armed with a hammer, and his companion, who brandished a baseball bat, demanded money, said Karen Brooks, prosecuting. Wadsworth struck Mr Anderson over the head with the hammer, and also twice struck his terrified 17-year-old girlfriend, when she tried to protect him. She grabbed £30 cash from upstairs, and after using a pepper spray on Mr Anderson, the two intruders fled".
Fortunately for the Police, when Wadsworth fled, he left behind his balaclava, which had traces of his DNA. A sole print of his boot was also found at the scene - Wadsworth was sent to prison.
Melissa knew of Wadsworth's violent past - he often boasted about being a cage fighter, but she stuck with him either because of love, being frightened of him or both. Sadly though, he turned his violence on Melissa at around 4:00 pm on May 20th 2020 when fueled by cocaine and booze Wadsworth attacked Melissa with a knife described in court as 'prolonged' and 'remorseless.' Melissa's 13-year-old daughter witnessed the attack and called 999. During the call, she could be heard saying: "Andy, what have you done? Why have you done that to my mum?"
Melissa's daughter screams were heard by a passer-by who tried to break into the house. This enabled the young girl to escape, but then Wadsworth started to attack the man who wanted to help, whose name was Gerard Bristow. Video evidence shown in court showed Wadsworth chasing Gerard Bristow down the street wielding the knife that had also been used to attack Melissa. Subsequently, he had his ear sliced before the emergency services arrived. While Gerard Bristow escaped with his life, Melissa was not so fortunate and died of her horiffic injuries. The Police arrested and charged Andrew Wadsworth with Melissa's murder - and at Manchester Crown Court on the 3rd of December 2020 he was found guilty by a jury who had to hear harrowing evidence.
Before passing a life sentence (with a minimum of 32 years), the judge told Wadsworth: "You had degraded her in life, and you continued to do so after her death."
After sentencing Greater Manchester Police released a family statement which read:
"May 20th 2020 - the day our family lost a mum, daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin and friend. Nothing will ever be the same again. Life as we knew it changed the day that monster took Melissa from us - her life taken in a remorseless attack".
"The complete and utter loss has destroyed our family - we will never come to terms with her death and our hearts will never heal from the sadness and despair that we all feel. Every day we think about what happened and we will never understand why Melissa died in such a brutal and senseless way - it is something we will never come to terms with. It breaks our hearts to know that we will never see her again".
"The trial has been an extremely traumatic experience as we’ve had to sit through every detail of how Melissa was killed. The defence continually tried to destroy her memory and showed a total lack of sympathy or sensitivity towards the family and the loss we have suffered".
“Although our hearts are truly broken, the love and support we have had for Melissa gives us the strength to at least try and move forward. As a family, we welcome today’s outcome, however, it doesn’t bring her back".
Melissa was a young mum and she had a dream - the dream of owning her own Beauty Salon. Melissa like all the other women in this series of remembrance pages was denied her dream by a man.
Melissa Belshaw 1988 - 2020