Karen Leonard murder: Killer’s chilling warning before violent murder

Michael Heighton issued a plea for help before brutally murdering his girlfriend, Karen Leonard, in 2009, according to a shock report.

July 1987: Michael Heighton breaks into his estranged wife’s house and threatens to kill her with two carving knives. She falls backwards out of the bedroom window sustaining head injuries.

June 1991: The 49-year-old kicks and punches a fellow patient at Middlesbrough’s Hutton Centre after she tried to end their relationship. A sharpened piece of metal is later found under a towel in his room.

November 1999: Heighton is arrested following a domestic dispute in which he threatened his partner’s daughter with a carving knife and slapped her in the face.

In a police cell he is physically and verbally violent, “howling like an animal and smearing faeces”. Police were required to enter his cell with shields in order to try to control the situation.

September 2000: He attacks his girlfriend of seven weeks and threatens to burn her eyes out with cigarettes and kill her two children. He is later charged with threats to kill, common assault, battery and affray.

October 2000: A Public Protection meeting is staged where police report nine incidents of domestic violence.

The report states the meeting confirmed he “was potentially dangerous towards any female he formed a relationship with”.

Later in 2005: He admits having issues with his medication and smoking £5 of cannabis a day.

The panel states: “It seemed to the panel that past risks, and future behavioural triggers were largely being ignored by the care team treating [Heighton].”


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