An “evil” serial wife killer who met his third victim while on day release from a secure mental hospital will die in jail.
Theodore Johnson, 64, was convicted of the manslaughter of two partners in the 1980s and ‘90s but spent the next 15 years lying to authorities and concealing his past from his new partner Angela Best.
The mother-of-four and grandmother only found out he had killed before when she came across letters at his home and confronted him.
When she left him for another man, he attacked the 51-year-old, beating her over the head with a claw hammer and throttling her with the belt from her leopard print dressing gown.
He then jumped in front of an express train at Cheshunt station in Hertfordshire, but survived.
Wheelchair-bound Johnson pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to murdering Ms Best on December 15 2016, and was jailed for life with a minimum term of 26 years.
Judge Richard Marks QC said: “The attack by you on Angela Best was sustained, vicious and utterly brutal. She suffered an unimaginably terrible death.”
His crime was aggravated by the fact it was his third killing of a female partner and that he repeatedly lied to authorities who were monitoring him in the community.
Judge Marks said: “Such repeated offending, resulting in three separate court cases, must be almost unprecedented.”
Afterwards, Ms Best’s sister Lorraine Jones accused Johnson of attempting to “play the system” to get away with murder.
She said: “This convicted murderer tried to play the system as he has successfully done before.
“He used diminished responsibility as the cause for his murderous actions.
“This time, however, he has eventually pleaded guilty to murder after 12 months since his arrest and subjecting our family to unnecessary additional trauma.
“He has shown in all cases he was clearly of sound mind. He knew what he was doing when he planned and executed the horrific murder of our beloved Angela.”
Mitigating for Johnson, Annette Henry QC said her client was likely to die behind bars.
She said: “He does not wish to be alive. He hates himself for what happened. We recognise the devastation felt by the family members.”
She said the mental health tribunal’s condition on Johnson’s release was flawed as it relied on “self reporting” any new relationship.
She said: “This was a dilemma and the tribunal found it was fraught with difficulty in trying to monitor.”
After being sentenced, Johnson made to stand up to leave the dock, but became shaky, sat down again and was wheeled out of court.