A jealous and controlling man who used a hammer to smash his way into a residential property and kill a woman in front of her child was today jailed for more than 26 years.
He was sentenced at the Old Bailey to 26 and a half years’ imprisonment, having pleaded guilty to her murder on March 17.
Her mother Ann Kerr said: “Leighann was a 26-year-old with a six-year-old daughter and was a happy and bubbly woman who had her whole life ahead of her. On Monday, 1 September 2014 she was brutally taken from us in an unprovoked and senseless attack.
“No sentence will ever make up for what he did and will never bring her back. However our family has finally got justice for Leighann which has caused months of grief.
“We want to thank the police who worked day and night to catch Leighann’s killer. We also want to thank all of our friends and family who have supported us through this devastating time of our lives.”
The BBC report that Judge Nicholas Cooke told the Jamaican national he must have had a “heart of stone” to have killed Ms Duffy despite the presence of the girl, whom he also attacked when she tried to intervene.
During the hearing, the judge said the murder could have been prevented if Byfield had been deported to Jamaica after he attacked another woman with a chisel and was jailed for 30 weeks for burglary in 2005.
He told him: “You were to be deported but for reasons that have never been explained to me, that was never actioned and you remained here able to kill an innocent woman.”
The court heard that on September 1 at about 3pm police were called to reports of a woman stabbed at a residential property in Hatherley Road, E17.
Officers and London Ambulance Service attended and found Leighann Duffy suffering from stab wounds to her arm and neck.
She was taken by London Air Ambulance to an east London hospital where she subsequently died on 3 September 2014.
A post-mortem examination took place at Walthamstow Mortuary on 4 September and gave cause of death as a stab wound to the neck.
A six-year-old child at the address received treatment at the scene for an assault related injury and did not attend hospital.
The two weapons used by Byfield in this attack, a claw hammer and a large red handled kitchen knife as well as a home made sheaf used to conceal the blade were all recovered at the scene by attending detectives who quickly linked him to the attack.
Byfield was arrested on September 17 in Walthamstow High Street after stopping a passing PCSO and admitting he was wanted by police.
Prior to his subsequent arrest, Byfield told the PCSO that “the devil came into his head” during the attack and that “there was no point in hiding” from police.
“This was a despicable attack on a woman at home with her young child – a place where she was entitled to feel safe,” said DCI Glen Lloyd, from the Homicide and Major Crime Command.
“Byfield has shown callous and murderous intent by forcing his way in and then proceeding to inflict fatal injuries on Leighann Duffy in a pre-planned attack. Byfield was motivated by jealously as he had previously wished to pursue a relationship with Duffy. I can only hope today’s sentence goes some small way to helping her family recover from what has been a horrendous ordeal.” e of our lives.”