A man who murdered the mother of his three young children in a ‘savage and prolonged’ knife attack in the back of a taxi has been jailed for life.
Junior Saleem Oakes, who killed Natasha Trevis five days after a social worker ‘let slip’ that she had aborted a fourth child, was ordered to serve at least 22 years before being considered for parole.
Birmingham Crown Court heard that Oakes, 28, of Birmingham, stabbed his victim a total of 26 times in the head, face, neck, chest, back and legs in the city last August.
Junior Saleem Oakes, 28, left, stabbed his former lover Natasha Trevis, 22, right, 26 times last August
Oakes had been due stand trial for the murder of his former girlfriend Miss Trevis, who was 22 and just 5ft 1in, but pleaded guilty to the charge before a jury was sworn in.
Sentencing Oakes, Judge William Davis QC described the killing in Northfield, in the south-west of the city, as an ‘act of savagery’ which had robbed ‘three tiny children’ of their mother.
‘She was a good young mother, a mother to three young children aged three, two and one.’
Judge Davis told Oakes: ‘By your savage attack on her, you have taken her away from both her children and indeed her mother.
‘I described the attack as savage because you inflicted 26 separate wounds with a knife – many of them required severe force, and many of them were inflicted from behind.
‘This young woman was either turning her back on you or trying to escape.
‘She did escape from the taxi but you chased her and continued the attack even as she tried desperately to save herself.’
Addressing Miss Trevis’ family, the judge said: ‘I am a father myself so I can imagine what it must be like to have 20-year-old daughter snatched away from me.
‘You have my condolences and those of the court.’
Opening the facts of the case, prosecutor David Matthew said the murder was committed on the morning of Oakes’s 28th birthday, August 7 last year, as the taxi headed towards the victim’s mother’s home.
He said the taxi had been called for Miss Trevis but Oakes had joined her, hoping for a lift to another address.
The prosecutor told the court that shortly before the attack, a social worker had accidentally let slip to Oakes that Miss Trevis had terminated their fourth child.
The couple were no longer living together, and social services were involved with them.
Quoting the statement from the taxi driver, Mr Dalton, the prosecutor told the court he heard Miss Trevis say to Oakes that they ‘didn’t need to talk about their relationship because they didn’t have one’.
He added: ‘Mr Dalton took this as an ordinary boyfriend and girlfriend argument, and heard her say “Put that away” but she didn’t sound upset.
‘Mr Dalton said: “He started to get really angry with her. He said ‘You caused this, you are a disgrace, you aborted my child”.
‘She said “He’s stabbing me, he’s stabbing me”.
‘”I couldn’t see him stabbing her, just him very very close; he must have been stabbing her.
‘”I got out of the car and she got out and he got out; she must have been stabbed, she must have been running on adrenaline.
‘”I ran to where she was so I was between them; he was holding the knife in his right hand.
‘”She tried to get back in the car, but he caught her before she could get in.
‘”He stabbed her, stabbing her again, stabbing her in the chest. She fell to the ground or was pushed and he ran off.”‘
The court heard that during the ‘persistent’ attack, the knife used by Oakes pierced Miss Trevis’ liver, lungs and heart. One stab wound to her brain was 10cm deep.
The taxi driver called emergency services but despite desperate attempts to save the victim, she was declared dead at the scene.
Oakes was arrested nearby on that evening after a member of the public spotted him lying in a garden.
After his arrest, he initially claimed that his ex-partner had produced the knife and then stabbed herself.
Defence counsel Timothy Raggatt QC said Oakes had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, and it was ‘doubtful’ whether the offence was premeditated.
The court heard that Oakes, who met Miss Trevis when she was 18, was illiterate and had a history of domestic violence.
Social services were involved with the couple and Oakes was no longer living at the family home by the time of the murder on August 7.
During discussions with social services five days earlier, a social worker had mentioned in front of Oakes that Miss Trevis had had a previous pregnancy terminated.
Speaking after the case, Detective Constable Michelle Ohren, of West Midlands Police, said: ‘Natasha was a loving and devoted mother to her three children and she had everything to live for.
‘She was very close to her family and this has devastated them all.’
In a statement issued by police, Natasha’s mother Joanne Hewitt paid tribute to her daughter.
‘Tasha was my diamond, the star of my life,’ she said.
‘She was beautiful, caring and loved her three children with all her heart.
‘When he killed her, he killed me. He has taken a very precious person from our family and broken us in two.’