Murder of mum and daughter has ‘devastated’ their family

A JUDGE has described the “devastating” impact the murder of a former Staple Hill woman and her two-year-old daughter has had on their family.

Andrew Innes must serve a minimum of 36 years in prison after being jailed for life for killing Bennylyn Burke and her daughter Jellica at his home in Dundee in 2021.

Innes, aged 52, drove to South Gloucestershire after targeting Bennylyn via an online dating app.

After taking them to Scotland, he stabbed and hit Bennylyn with a hammer before he sexually abused, strangled and smothered Jellica.

He then hid their bodies under his kitchen floor.

Bennylyn, who was 25, had moved to the UK from the Philippines in 2019.

She had met husband Lexington Burke online in 2015. They had married in the Philippines in 2018, the same year Jellica was born, and moved to Staple Hill the following year.

After they separated in 2020, Bennylyn moved to Kingswood.

When she and Jellica were reported missing in March 2021, a police appeal for information about her whereabouts was widely shared by concerned members of the public.

The Avon & Somerset police investigation traced Innes’s car on its journey, which took place during a lockdown, and they asked Police Scotland officers to check his address.

As his home was searched, he admitted killing Bennylyn and Jellica, and burying their bodies under the kitchen floor.

Innes had denied murder, claiming he had diminished responsibility due to mental impairment.

However a judge directed the trial jury at Edinburgh’s High Court that no legal basis for his plea had been established, and he was found guilty on February 6.

Sentencing judge Lord Beckett said Innes’s crimes were “amongst the very worst” ever seen at the court.

He said the consequences were “devastating” for Bennylyn and Jellica’s family.

The judge said: “Jellica’s father Lexington Burke has lost his beloved daughter and is left in a state of anger and agonising disbelief that anyone could be so cruel as to kill her mother in front of Jellica and then sexually abuse…and murder Jellica.”

The judge said Innes had killed Jellica “for no apparent reason other than that she was crying”.

He said Bennylyn’s father in the Philippines had lost his “beloved and irreplaceable” daughter and granddaughter, had been made ill and could no longer work.

The judge said: “Bennylyn’s sister has suffered overwhelming shock and grief from losing her sister and niece in such terrible circumstances.

“She cannot sleep and cannot work. She also explains the impact of the loss of support from Bennylyn on the lifestyle that she and her family used to enjoy.”

The judge said Innes had also repeatedly raped, gagged and handcuffed another young girl, which he described as “a crime of exceptional cruelty and depravity”.

He said the girl would suffer a “lifelong impact” and could no longer trust any man.

Afterwards Detective Chief Inspector Graham Smith, of Police Scotland’s major investigation team, said the murders had “shocked and appalled us all”.

He said: “In almost 30 years of policing, the depravity shown by Andrew Innes was beyond anything I, or colleagues, had witnessed before.

“His actions showed no regard for human life, or for the suffering and anguish he brought to their loved ones.

“I want to thank Bennylyn and Jellica’s family for the courage they have shown throughout what has been an unimaginable ordeal, and I hope that this conviction helps to bring them some degree of closure.”

Avon & Somerset police Detective Inspector Will Thorpe said that after Bennylyn and Jellica were reported missing and officers linked Innes to the case, they had hoped to find mother and daughter safe and well.

He said: “Sadly, that was not to be the case.

“The community response to their disappearance showed both mother and daughter were much-loved, and our sympathies today go out to all those affected.”

Among those who met Bennylyn and Jellica while they were living in Staple Hill was South Gloucestershire councillor Ian Boulton.

Bennylyn had been an active member of the Staple Hill and Mangotsfield Residents Facebook group he moderates.

Cllr Boulton said: “I will treasure my memory of meeting Bennylyn and Jellica.  Their disappearance and subsequent murders has been the most upsetting situation I have experienced as a councillor and my heart goes out to their loved ones, whose hurt must be unimaginable. 

“I hope this conclusive verdict provides the family and friends of Bennylyn and Jellica with a little comfort.”

 Bennylyn Burke and her daughter Jellica