Knifeman, 26, admits murder of mother-of-three Clair Ablewhite

Knifeman, 26, admits murder of mother-of-three, 47, who was stabbed to death at £350,000 cottage in one of Britain’s ‘poshest’ villages

  • Clair Ablewhite, 47, fatally stabbed at her home in Colston Bassett in February
  • John Jessop, 26, previously denied murder but changed plea to guilty today 
  • He is due to be sentenced on December 9 at Nottingham Crown Court
  • Two of Ms Ablewhite’s sons previously described her as ‘one in a million’

A 26-year-old man is set to be jailed for life after he admitted stabbing a mother-of-three at her home.

‘One in a million’ Clair Ablewhite was discovered with fatal stab wounds at her cottage in Hall Lane, Colston Bassett, Nottinghamshire, on February 25.

John Jessop, of Newark, was arrested days later and charged with Ms Ablewhite’s murder.

He initially denied her murder and was set to stand trial next week but changed his plea to guilty when he appeared today at Nottingham Crown Court.

Clair Ablewhite, 47, was killed in Colston Basset, Nottinghamshire in February by John Jessop, 26 who today pleaded guilty to her murder

During proceedings, Jessop confirmed his name and then pleaded guilty to one count of murder.

Jessop spoke calmly and appeared composed in the dock, wearing a dark grey T-shirt and pale grey tracksuit bottoms as Ms Ablewhite’s relatives looked on from the public gallery.

Ms Ablewhite was killed at a £350,000 cottage in Colston Bassett – once named one of Britain’s ‘poshest’ villages – on the evening of February 25.

Her body was discovered by police officers the following day. A Home Office post-mortem examination confirmed Ms Ablewhite had suffered stab wounds.

Mr Joyce, asking the judge to adjourn sentencing, said only the question of Jessop’s minimum prison term remained.

Judge Rafferty agreed, saying: ‘I know nothing about him. It’s a full confession. We need to be clear what, if anything, underlaid what he did’.

Jessop will remain in custody until he is sentenced on December 9.

Judge Rafferty told the defendant: ‘You have now pleaded guilty to murder – the most serious of offences. It is inevitable you will be sentenced to life imprisonment.

‘I have to consider now what term you should be ordered to serve before you can ever be considered for release, if release comes even then.

Ms Ablewhite’s sons previously paid tribute to their ‘one in a million’ and ‘truly one of a kind’ mother (pictured above)

Peter Joyce KC, defending, said Jessop had made a ‘full confession’ to the killing.

Judge Rafferty told Mr Joyce: ‘I know nothing about him. We need to be clear what, if anything, underlaid what he did.’

The judge said he still needed to hear from both sides in the case, adding: ‘Equally, your barristers need your help, and you must be entirely frank with them; if they need you to see a psychiatrist or a psychologist, you must be entirely frank with him or her.’

Jessop will be sentenced on December 9, but was warned by judge Stuart Rafferty KC that he ‘inevitably’ faced life imprisonment.

Detective Inspector Melanie Crutchley, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: ‘This was an appalling crime that resulted in the death of a much loved and very popular woman.

‘I am pleased that Jessop has now admitted his guilt and would like to thank everyone who responded to our many public appeals for information in the days after this horrific crime.

‘My thoughts and the thoughts of everyone on my team remain with Clair’s family.’

Police on Hall Lane in Colston Bassett, Nottinghamshire, where Clair Ablewhite, 47, was stabbed to death on 25 February 2022

Following Jessop’s guilty plea, Ms Ablewhite’s son Sam Ablewhite, posted on Facebook: ‘Mum 6 months since you were cruelly taken from us in the worst way anyone could imagine.’

‘I miss you so much Mum, forever and always on my mind. I hope your proud of everything I’m doing.’

Neighbours said the 47-year-old, who worked as a local dog walker, had only moved into a rented house in the village a short time before the attack on the evening of February 25.

Following her death, two of Ms Ablewhite’s sons paid tribute to her, describing her as ‘one in a million’.

Dan Ablewhite, 28, previously wrote on Facebook: ‘I love you so much mum. I just want to see that beautiful big smile and give you a hug and tell you how much you mean to us all.

‘You really was one in a million, rest in peace, sleep tight, remember and dream about all the good times we had together.’

Meanwhile Sam Ablewhite, 20, said: ‘RIP Mum we all miss you so much

‘You really was one in a million. Words cannot describe how hard my life will be without seeing that beautiful big smile you had.

‘Rest in peace, Sleep tight and remember all the good times we had together.

‘All 3 of us brothers will do everything we can to put a proud little smile on your face up there.’

Colston Bassett is based in the Vale of Belvoir on the Nottinghamshire-Leicestershire border and has a population of around 400.

Police said while hunting Ms Ablewhite’s killer that they believed the attacker may have been known to her.

Assistant Chief Constable Rob Griffin, of Notts Police, said: ‘We are keeping an open mind about the circumstances around Clair’s murder.

‘However, there are some features within it that make me think that this is a local person.

‘There are no signs of forced entry and no obvious signs of a burglary. It could be that the person was known to Clair.’

Her neighbours described Ms Ablewhite as ‘a very lovely lady’ who was ‘always smiling’. 

A middle-aged villager, who would only identify herself as Claire, said at the time of her death: ‘She was a lovely lady, very friendly and always smiling. It is such a shame, just awful what has happened.

‘As a local you cannot imagine that something like this would ever happen here. It’s a lovely, charming village where something dreadful has now happened.’

John Jennings, 62, who lived just yards from where Ms Ablewhite was killed, said: ‘This kind of thing is pretty much unheard of around here.

‘It’s very sad news. She hadn’t been here long, only a month or so, so I only really knew her to say ‘hello’ to, when I saw her walking her dogs. But she seemed really nice.’

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