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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 July, 2003, 17:33 GMT 18:33 UK
Stepfather given life for murder
Jenna Baldwin
Jenna Baldwin was murdered by her stepfather
A factory worker has been jailed for life for murdering his teenage stepdaughter and burying her body in a shallow grave.

Mike Baldwin, 36, of Pontypool, south Wales, was found guilty by a jury at Cardiff Crown Court of the murder of 15-year-old Jenna Baldwin.

Sentencing Baldwin, Judge John Griffith Williams did not set a minimum term, and said he would inform the Home Secretary at a later date.

Speaking after the verdict, Jenna's mother Desiree said Baldwin had shown "absolutely no remorse" for the murder of her "most precious and beautiful daughter".

But she said Jenna's death would not be in vain as her children could grow up without Baldwin in their lives.

Baldwin had denied murder, claiming Jenna had accidentally fallen down the stairs at the family home in Abersychan, near Pontypool, during an argument.

But the jury decided on their second day of deliberations that Baldwin had intentionally killed Jenna and buried her body on a mountainside near Blaenavon.

He also tormented his family with phone calls and text messages purporting to be from Jenna in an effort to make them believe she was still alive.

Mike Baldwin
A calculating, deceitful liar determined to try and cover his tracks and put his wife and his family through the most horrendous experience
DCI Geoff Ronayne on Baldwin

The jury of eight men and four women took about six hours over a two-day period to reach a verdict.

'Short-tempered bully'

The judge told Baldwin: "Only you know the precise circumstances of Jenna's death and only time will tell if you are prepared to share your secret and so relieve your wife to whom you confessed your love.

"You are an arrogant man interested in getting your own way. You are short tempered and something of a bully.

"It is likely there was some row between you during which Jenna may have been abusive to you. But I'm satisfied that you would have been just as abusive to her.

"The likelihood is that you lost your temper and strangled her.

"After that you did not panic but made a clear and calculated attempt to cover up - motivated entirely by self interest.

"You have shown nothing but self-pity and not a trace of remorse for the death of a young and popular girl.

"Jenna would have grown out of the rebellious phase of her life to fulfil a life full of promise."

Desiree Baldwin
Jenna's mother Desiree said her death was not in vain
Detective Chief Inspector Geoff Ronayne, who was in charge of the investigation, said after the verdict: "We should remember why we are here today, that a 15-year-old girl has lost her life and had it completely ripped away from her.

"The family can now at least begin to grieve.

'Extremely difficult year'

"Michael Baldwin has deliberately and cynically killed Jenna before then disposing of her body and deceiving her family in the worst possible way.

"Gwent Police would like to pay tribute to the way in which Desiree, Nigel Brookfield and other members of Jenna's family have borne the pressures of the investigation and the trial.

"Without their persistence we would not have been where we are today.

Speaking about Baldwin, he added: "I think he is a calculating, deceitful liar who is determined to try and cover his tracks and put his wife and his family through the most horrendous experience that can ever be inflicted on anyone and I am pleased for them that he has been found guilty of murder."

Mr Ronayne said Baldwin would go to any lengths to get himself "off the hook" even if that involved using members of his family.

Jenna Baldwin's boyfriend, Christopher Jones
Jenna's boyfriend Christopher Jones gave evidence to the court

Jenna first went missing in September 2002, but her body was not found for 12 weeks until Baldwin revealed its location to police in November.

During the seven-week trial, Baldwin said he and Jenna had argued frequently and her death had come about accidentally after she pursued him up the stairs and he lashed out.

He claimed that after Jenna died while he was driving her to hospital, he panicked and buried her at the roadside.

But in court, the prosecution offered evidence to back its claim that the stairs and landing were too narrow for Jenna to have been knocked backwards in the way Baldwin claimed.

The prosecution added that the idea of a 5ft 11ins, 15-stone judo expert feeling threatened by a 5ft 6ins 15-year-old girl was absurd.

Baldwin also made no attempt to revive Jenna, despite being a qualified first-aider.

He did not summon help and told the jury he did not double-check to see if she was dead before covering her grave.

After burying Jenna, Baldwin bought a mobile phone, which he registered giving false details, and then sent a series of false text messages and made hoax phone calls to give his family and police the impression that Jenna had left home.

Witnesses told the jury of at least two occasions when Baldwin was violent towards Jenna.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Wyre Davies
"Exactly why Mike Baldwin snapped and killed his stepdaughter may never be known"


Statement from Jenna Baldwin's mother and father:
"He has shown no remorse for this terrible act"



SEE ALSO:
Defence sums up in murder trial
18 Jul 03  |  Wales
Prosecution sums up in case
17 Jul 03  |  Wales
Stepfather denies sex claim
15 Jul 03  |  Wales
Jenna murder - confession claim
03 Jul 03  |  Wales
Fiery and fatal relationship
22 Jul 03  |  Wales
Murderer's trail of errors
22 Jul 03  |  Wales
Brief encounter with a killer
22 Jul 03  |  South East Wales



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