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30th Mar 2022

Brave schoolgirl played dead to escape a killer who stabbed her mum to death

April Curtin

Christina Rowe was stabbed to death before her body was stuffed into a suitcase (Credit: SWNS)

The killer dumped her mum’s body in a river before going back to try and bury her too

A courageous schoolgirl who pretended to be dead in a bath tub after a killer had stabbed her mum to death is still haunted by nightmares over a year later, her family have revealed.

Charles Byrne, 25, strangled and stabbed 28-year-old Christina Rowe through the heart before stuffing her body into a suitcase on February 10 last year. The killer then tried to kill Rowe’s young daughter by throttling her and smashing her head on the floor at their family home in Worcester.

However the youngster survived the attack by pretending to be dead. The killer then dumped her in the bath before throwing the suitcase containing her mum’s body in the River Severn.

After dumping the body in the river, Byrne returned to the mum and daughter’s home with a shovel, which he planned to use to bury Rowe’s daughter.

Thankfully, when he discovered the little girl had survived, the killer fled the property. A huge manhunt took place and Byrne was arrested days later.

Cristina Rowe (SWNS)

The killer met Rowe, a former model from the Philippines, on a dating app but she ended the relationship a few months later, the court heard.

On the day of the killing he went to Rowe’s home because of his delusional belief that she was a “transgender paedophile” who was “harbouring a young child”.

After stabbing her to death, Byrne stamped on her so hard he left a shoe imprint, before attempting to murder her daughter who was woken by her screams.

Last Friday, Byrne, of Worcester, was jailed for life after admitting manslaughter by diminished responsibility and attempted murder – but Rowe’s grief-stricken family are still left with the trauma of the murder.

Byrne stuffed his ex girlfriend's body into a suitcase and dumped it into a river (SWNS)

Rowe’s daughter is scared someone will hurt her again. She no longer trusts men and suffers with PTSD, a family member said.

“She misses her mum terribly,” the girl’s grandfather Marcus explained, “they were very, very close.”

Also opening up about the ordeal, Rowe’s younger sister Stephanie said the family feel “buried alive” with grief.

“We all have to live with the fact that Charles is alive and my sister isn’t,” she said. “What did she do to die in such an evil way? I really long for my sister’s hug and warmth. No parent should have to bury their child. He [dad] tells me he’s fine but I know he’s not doing well.

“I just want to wake up and end this nightmare.”

Sentencing Byrne to life with a minimum sentence of 16 years, Justice Pepperall told the defendant he would be sent back to Ashworth high-security hospital for treatment for his paranoid schizophrenia. He will then be moved to a regular prison if he sufficiently recovers from his condition.

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