Family of dad killed by partner say she ‘got off lightly as she’s a woman’

The grieving family of a dad-of-four who was killed by his "evil" girlfriend say she got off "lightly" because she's a woman.

Craig Morse's loved ones have condemned the "ludicrous" and "pathetic" sentence handed to killer Tonia Crabtree, which is less than five years.

The victim's dad has described Crabtree, 29, as an "evil domestic abuser" who "played the court" to "get off" with a lighter jail term after stabbing her boyfriend in the heart during a heated row.

They say she should have been locked up for life instead of four years and nine months, writes StoekonTrentLive.

The 33-year-old's dying words, according to his killer, were "I love you".

The dad had been involved in an on-and-off-again relationship with Crabtree for more than a year when the stabbing happened.

The pair lived together in Tunstall before Tonia moved to Langley Mill, Derbyshire, with Craig moving in during lockdown.

Craig tried to wrestle the kitchen knife from Tonia's hands in a bid to prevent her from self-harming, when the 9cm blade plunged into his chest, and fatally stabbing his heart, shortly before 2am on April 3.

Police and paramedics rushed to the scene after Crabtree's brother had tried giving him CPR, but the dad-of-four died at the scene.

Crabtree was jailed for four years and nine months yesterday after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

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The couple, both originally from Stoke-on-Trent, had a "toxic relationship" and were abusive to each other, Derby Crown Court heard on Wednesday.

It also heard both had been drinking heavily that night, with Tonia more than three times the drink-drive limit.

Defence barrister Clive Stockwell QC said Mr Morse had attempted to stop Crabtree from harming herself but she thrust the knife into his chest in the heat of the moment.

Craig then staggered into the living room, where her brother Daniel and his partner were sleeping.

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Mr Crabtree told police: “Craig was screaming and came into the bedroom saying ‘she’s stabbed me, she’s stabbed me, I should not have done it’, meaning hit her.

“He struggled back, raised his arms and pulled her in as if to cuddle her.

“He told her he loved her, his body went limp and he collapsed in the hallway.”

Mr Morse's family have now spoken out about Crabtree's sentence, saying they felt Craig was unfairly portrayed in court.

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His heartbroken dad, Dillwyn Morse, aged 56, from Leek, said: "The sentencing meant everything to us. We thought she'd get life for murder not be out in a few years for manslaughter. We thought that the judge was going to hammer her.

"We hoped it would bring closure but we can't carry on with our lives knowing we've let Craig down. I promised my son when we buried him that we would get justice but we've failed.

"We are devastated, it was like the funeral all over again. I'm in pieces.

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"We were told she would get seven or eight years. It's just an insult. Is that all my son is worth? We can't believe it.

"I have had to tell my four little grandchildren that 'daddy's been hurt so badly that he won't be coming home'. It was so, so difficult. How is this justice?

"She'll be out on the streets again in a year or so and God forbid she ever does it again. I'm frightened that another family will have to go through what we have. She's pure evil. My hatred for her is all consuming.

"It's cut the heart out of our family. Our souls have been destroyed. I don't know how I'm going to pick up the shattered pieces of my family. We have been let down immensely. It's unforgivable.

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"It's going to take years for us to recover. We are looking at if there's a way of challenging the sentence."

He also said there were "crocodile tears in court" and "no remorse" from Crabtree, who reportedly 'couldn't even look at them'.

The victim's dad went on to say his son was 'kind, loving, hard-working and hated fighting'.

He added: "My last memory is going out for a meal with him in Newcastle with the kids. He was so happy. He gave me a big hug and then I haven't seen him since. Little did I know that I would have to identify him through a photo because of covid.

"My 15-month-old only ever got to meet his brother once and that hurts me so much.

"I was a dad of seven but now I'm a dad of six because of that evil woman. He had so much more to give. She hasn't even said sorry for what she's done. She has no decency.

"Because she's a woman she's got away with it. She played the victim."

Danielle Collins – the mother of three of Craig's children – added: "My seven-year-old daughter collapsed on the floor when she was told. No child should hear that their daddy isn't coming home.

"My children have been in tears. It's broken me to pieces.

"Craig didn't have much but he would take them to the shops. He loved his children.

"We would have wanted it to go to trial so the full details could have come out."

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