A MAN has been sentenced to at least 23 years and four months behind bars for murdering his ex-girlfriend and her new partner in what the judge described as a “savage attack”.
Andrew Saunders, 21, was today sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court to life imprisonment for murdering Zoe Morgan and Lee Simmons shortly before 6am last September 28 on Queen Street.
The morning of the murder
Zoe Morgan, 21, from Llandaff North was standing outside her workplace, Matalan, where she was about to start her shift. Lee Simmons, 33, from Grangetown also worked at the store and had accompanied her.
Andrew Saunders approached them and started stabbing Mr Simmons in the back. Miss Morgan tried to pull the attacker away but he continued, saying “I’m coming for you next”.
She then started to run down the street but was caught by Mr Saunders who stabbed her repeatedly before walking away.
Lee Simmons sustained 14 injuries while Zoe Morgan received 32.
Mrs Justice Nicola Davies told Mr Saunders: “In a sustained and brutal attack you ended those lives. You took away the futures of Lee Simmons and Zoe Morgan.”
Mr Saunders and Miss Morgan met in June 2014 and were in a relationship until July 2015. The court were told the relationship had “recommenced” later that year but neither had told their families.
Miss Morgan met Lee Simmons in June 2016 while working at Matalan and a relationship soon developed between them. According to Mr Saunders, Miss Morgan stopped speaking to him in July.
After seeing that Mr Simmons had “liked” photos on her Facebook profile, Mr Saunders sent abusive messages to Miss Morgan threatening to injure or kill Mr Simmons and accused her of having cheated on him.
‘You just snap’
Mr Saunders admitted that he decided to kill Miss Morgan in September. He googled a number of subjects including “the easiest way to kill a person” and “how to slit someone’s throat successfully”.
Later that month he visited Morrison’s and bought two knives and a pair of latex gloves.
Before leaving on the morning of the murders, Mr Saunders wrote letters to various family members. In one letter he wrote: “I have struggled with life for a while now and I could not deal with it any longer sorry. I tried putting my negative thoughts and memories to the back of my mind but it keeps coming back all the time. I’m in mental pain daily.”
Mrs Davies said: “Your mother describes you as having struggled to come to terms with the breakup of your relationship with Zoe. Following the split in July 2015 she states that you have been in and out of depression, although you never sought medical attention.”
The court heard that three days before the murders, Mr Saunders had bought an air rifle and 500 pellets from a gun shop in Newport.
Mrs Justice Davies said: “You have since stated, and I accept, that you bought the rifle in order to end your own life.”
When the police arrived to arrest Mr Saunders at his home in Castleton, he told an officer: “I’m sorry, you know sometimes you just snap.”
On the way to the police station, he said: “Your head is a weird thing, one moment, that’s all it was.”
Dr Sanikop, a consultant forensic psychiatrist, said Mr Saunders had experienced several events that had led to “significant emotional distress”. He cited the recent death of his grandfather, the ending of his relationship with Miss Morgan and the sudden death of his dog.
However, Mrs Justice Davies said: “Whatever your emotional state on September 28, 2016, you took the lives of two people in a savage and senseless attack.”
‘The nightmare will live with us forever’
After the sentence, senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Mark O’Shea, said: “Andrew Saunders has rightly been sentenced today to a lengthy term of imprisonment for his brutal and callous murders. He is a cold calculating killer who planned this crime over a number of weeks.
“He brutally killed those two wonderful young people out of an immature jealousy that cannot be explained or understood by any right thinking person. He has offered no mitigation and displayed no remorse. He is a truly despicable man.
“He deserves to spend the majority of his life in prison where he will hopefully have time to reflect on the gravity of his offences.”
Kelly Huggins, from the Crown Prosecution Service said: “This was a brutal, unprovoked and premeditated attack.
“Saunders attended the location well before Zoe Morgan and Lee Simmons arrived that day and ambushed them.
“As he brutally attacked them he also showed no concern for members of the public who were subjected to a frightening scene of violence.”
A statement on behalf of Zoe Morgan’s family was read, which said: “We are all totally heartbroken and will miss our beautiful intelligent girl for the rest of our lives. We have had a life sentence put on us by this horrible individual.”
A statement by Lee Simmon’s family said: “Lee had met the love of his life in Zoe, he could not have been happier. He was the most gentle and caring young man who gave his all to everybody; you could not have wished to meet a more kind and thoughtful person.”
They added: “The nightmare will live with us all forever.”