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'I encouraged her to visit, I thought the UK was safe': Grandfather of Canadian murdered by boyfriend admits
8 September 2022, 10:57
The grandfather of a Canadian woman murdered by a man from Essex has admitted he encouraged her to visit the UK because he thought it was "the safest place in the world."
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It comes after Jack Sepple, 23, yesterday pleaded guilty at Chelmsford Crown Court to the murder of 19-year-old Ashley Wadsworth, who he had met through an online dating app.
Jeff Wadsworth, 66, said in the wake of her death that he encouraged her to travel halfway across the world to meet Sepple because he "thought it was going to be the time of her life."
He added: "We're just devastated. I can't believe it.
"I never thought something like this would happen in England – I thought it was the safest place in the world. And it is a safe place – this is such a not normal thing."
Ms Wadsworth, from Vernon, British Columbia, was discovered with knife wounds following a 'disturbance' at an address in Tennyson Road, Chelmsford, at around 4pm on February 1, days before she was due to fly home.
An inquest hearing was told that she died of "stab wounds to the chest".
She was on a six-month tourist visa and came to Britain after meeting Sepple online, a previous court hearing was told.
In a brief hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court on Wednesday, Sepple's barrister said a psychiatrist had indicated that the defendant was fit to plead.
Christopher Paxton QC, for Sepple, said that the "issue of fitness is now resolved" and requested that the defendant be asked to enter a plea.
The court clerk read the single charge of murder and Sepple, standing in the secure dock in a long white sleeved top and with tattoos on his face and hand, replied: "I'm guilty."
Ms Wadsworth had met her boyfriend, Sepple, through an online dating app and travelled to the UK late last year.
The teenager moved to Chelmsford in November 2021, she wrote on Facebook.
Earlier this year she posted photos online of her "amazing trip to London", where she had been sightseeing with Sepple and his parents.
She wrote: "So thankful for them."
Judge Christopher Morgan told Sepple: "By your plea of guilty to murder there's only one sentence that can be passed and that's a life sentence."
He remanded the defendant in custody until October 10, when he will be sentenced.
Ms Wadsworth was described by family as “fiercely loving and loyal to her family and friends” alike.
They celebrated her "spontaneous, witty, kind personality" in a tribute released by Essex Police.
Her mother Christy said: “Ashley…. Mommy loves you and I will see you soon baby.
“Your sister and I are here waiting for you. God bless.”
She went on to “thank everybody in the UK, Canada and around the world for their support and generosity at this difficult time” saying, “I am struggling every day to come to terms with this horrific tragedy and am eager to bring my baby home.”
Detective Superintendent Scott Egerton, senior investigating officer, said the evidence against Sepple is "so overwhelming he had very few options other than to admit his guilt".
“Today, Jack Sepple has admitted murdering Ashley Wadsworth," he said.
“The evidence against Sepple is so overwhelming that he was left with very few options other than to admit his guilt.
“At the very least, today’s plea means Ashley’s family will be spared the heartache of having to sit through a trial.
“I hope today that they can feel some form of comfort knowing that Sepple is facing a substantial amount of time behind bars for his actions.”