Man, 35, who murdered ex-partner and boyfriend days after being released given whole life order

1 March 2024, 12:19 | Updated: 1 March 2024, 12:26

Marcus Osborne (left), Katie Higton (top right), Steven Harnett (bottom right)
Marcus Osborne (left), Katie Higton (top right), Steven Harnett (bottom right). Picture: West Yorkshire Police

By Emma Soteriou

A 35-year-old man who murdered his ex-partner and boyfriend days after being released by police has been given a whole life order.

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Marcus Osborne was sentenced to a whole life order at Leeds Crown Court on Friday for the murder of his ex-partner Katie Higton and her new boyfriend Steven Harnett.

Osborne murdered the couple in May last year, after forcing himself in the home he used to share with Ms Higton in Huddersfield.

Prosecutors said Ms Higton put up a "courageous struggle" but ended up with 99 injuries.

Huddersfield Man Jailed For Life For Double Murder

Osborne then used her phone to reach out to Mr Harnett and lure him to the house, where he stabbed him 24 times and left him with mutilated genitals.

He said: "Romeo and Juliet can f***ing die together now" after the brutal double killing.

He then raped another woman, who he had held captive in the house overnight, at knifepoint.

Four children were in the house at the time, the court was told.

Read more: Ex-boyfriend admits to murdering mum-of-four and her new partner before admitting to rape of another woman

Read more: Two children 'were inside house' as mother and her partner were killed in Huddersfield as man charged with double murder

Marcus Osborne
Marcus Osborne. Picture: West Yorkshire Police

Prosecutor Jonathan Sandiford KC said: "The defendant committed a premeditated and brutal double murder motivated by sexual jealousy, a desire to exercise control over Katie Higton, an unwillingness to accept her decision to leave him and her freedom to form a relationship with another man."

The judge, Mrs Justice Lambert, imposed 10-year concurrent sentences for the rape and false imprisonment of the other woman in the house.

She told Osborne: "There are no mitigating factors in your case other than your guilty plea. There is no psychiatric or other evidence placed before me to explain or help me understand your actions.

"This is a case of such exceptional seriousness that even a very long minimum term would not be a just punishment. What you did that night was horrific."

Katie Higton
Katie Higton. Picture: West Yorkshire Police

Ms Higton left Osborne after five years together, following a domestic violence incident in April which was "the last straw".

She told police the relationship had become "coercive, controlling and physically abusive" in the last two years and that she had been regularly assaulted, including one incident when he threw a cat at her, the court heard.

She said that Osborne told her "he would slit her throat if she said what he had done" and that "if she ever got a boyfriend he would kill them both".

The judge said the killings were "sexual in nature" and driven by Osborne's "pathological jealousy".

She told Osborne: "They were driven by your sexual jealousy arising from Katie's decision to start a new relationship with Steven.

"I do not accept (the murders) are explained by your entrenched insecurity about being abandoned as a result of a neglected childhood.

"Everything you did was motivated by sex and your need to sexually humiliate and degrade."

Steven Harnett
Steven Harnett. Picture: West Yorkshire Police

On May 12, three days before the double murder, Osborne was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence offences and bailed with conditions not to go back to their home, but spied on her over the following days before taking a taxi to the house on the night of the murders.

He found out about the developing relationship between Ms Higton and Mr Harnett by hacking into her Snapchat account, the court was told.

A victim personal statement by Ms Higton's mother Nicola McAlister, read in court, said Osborne was "a monster of the worst kind".

A family member shouted "I hope you rot in hell" from the public gallery as Osborne was taken away.