Mark Barrott murdered his wife Eileen a day after she told him she was leaving him
A man who murdered his wife in a “last act of control” before fleeing 400 miles to a monastery in Scotland has been sentenced to at least 21 years in prison.
Mark Barrott, 55, hit his wife Eileen in the head with a hammer and then strangled her at their home in Whinmoor, Leeds after years of abuse.
The father of two fled to Scotland and his son Joel found her body in the living room on Sunday August 15, 2021.
Barrott took a train from Leeds to Edinburgh before traveling further north. Over the next few days, the killer was sighted in Aberdeen and then more than 60 miles north of the city in the Elgin area.
Following a police manhunt, he was tracked down and arrested on August 19 at the historic Benedictine monastery of Pluscarden Abbey, near Elgin.
Barrott had been hiding there under the pseudonym John Connelly.
The woman was found dead the day after she told her husband she was leaving
Barrott was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum sentence of 21 years at Bradford Crown Court after being found guilty of murder at a nine-day trial. But he refused to appear in court for the sentencing.
Judge Andrew Hatton said there was a “long history” of domestic violence and controlling behavior as Barrott regularly followed his wife, hiding a tracking device in her purse and turning up unannounced when she was socializing with friends or at work.
Ms Barrott, a 50-year-old nurse who has been described as “a very special and talented woman,” has been with her husband for nearly 30 years.
The court heard she was found dead the day after she told her husband she was leaving him.
“This time you knew there were no last chances left, you knew you had exhausted them all,” the judge said.
“Her control and manipulation came to an end and you killed her in a final act of control over her.”
The judge accepted Barrott suffered from serious mental health issues, including depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, but said his attempt to use the defense for diminished responsibility was dismissed.
“My mother was a very special and talented woman”
Joel Barrott, 21, told the court he has been suffering from “debilitating” mental health issues since finding his mother’s body.
“My mother was a very special and talented woman. She was a brilliant nurse and an even better mom,” he said.
“She has often given me advice about healthcare, my future and how to become a better person. She told me right from wrong and at every point I had trouble she was there for me to show me and guide me to the man I am today.
“However, on August 15, all of that was taken away from me by the man I once called my father.”
He added: “The worst pain you’ve caused me is that the very last memory I have of my mother is that I found her dead and lifeless on the sofa.”
“No More Pain Wherever She Is”
Carita Barrott, 23, told the court she lost both of her parents on the night of the murder and was “completely devastated”.
She said: “My life was completely turned upside down and changed so suddenly. Suddenly it changed my whole world view and destroyed all hope for life – all joy of life.
“I felt completely empty and plunged into depression, walking around like a soulless, hollow, empty shell that no longer belonged in this world, without the greatest inspiration in my life.”
She added: “The bittersweet side was that after 23 years of my life of abuse and control and 27 of my mother’s, I was now free, as was my brother and mother. No more pain wherever she is.”
She also said her father remained “emotional” throughout the process, asking him, “Do you even care?”
The judge told the court that Barrot had made several accounts of what happened on the day of the murder, but they were all “provenly false”.
In one version, Barrott claimed an argument broke out while he was fixing the door, and he “instinctively” hit him with a hammer after she banged his head on the door.
Barrott said she “charged” at him and he thought she had “a demon inside her,” so he threw the hammer at her and they started fighting.
But the judge dismissed that account as “nonsense,” saying he clearly carried out a “baseless assault” on his “defenseless wife.”
Barrott responsible for “appalling catalog” of controlling behavior
West Yorkshire Police Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Vanessa Rolfe said: “Mark Barrott has emerged as someone responsible for a appalling catalog of coercive and controlling behavior against his wife Eileen over a number of years.
“When he realized she was finally trying to break free of this toxic relationship, he acted with murderous intent.
“His cruel and selfish actions have robbed Eileen’s family and friends of themselves and left a huge hole in her life.
“He fled 400 miles from the couple’s home immediately after the murder, just as he had attempted to escape full responsibility for his actions during the trial.
“We hope that his murder conviction and the life sentence he has received will bring at least some comfort to Eileen’s family and everyone who loved her.”
A statement from Eileen’s parents and children thanked the police, court staff and jury.
It continued, “Finally, we would like to thank Eileen’s friends and colleagues who have been so supportive of us leading up to Mark Barrott’s sentencing. We thank all witnesses for their courage to testify in court.”