Victim ‘felt safe’ with boyfriend who suffered Simon Cowell delusions before stabbing her to death, court told

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A WOMAN sent a text message saying she felt “safe” with her boyfriend – just hours before he strangled and stabbed her 12 times.

Gemma Finnigan had grown increasingly concerned about Daniel Johnson’s bizarre behaviour, including him being convinced he was about to meet music boss Simon Cowell, in the days before he killed her.

In a text message to Johnson’s sister Lindsey Bennett, hours before her death on September 13 last year, Miss Finnigan said she felt safe and was just worried about him, not herself.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Johnson, who had become obsessed with aliens and conspiracy theories, strangled and stabbed the 24-year-old in the bedroom at their home in Church View, Boldon Colliery, because he believed she had been possessed by the Devil.

Johnson denies murder and is being tried by a jury, who will be asked to consider whether he is guilty of manslaughter with diminished responsibility or not guilty but insane.

Prosecutor Jamie Hill QC told the court Miss Finnigan confided in her mum Jennifer that she was worried about Johnson’s behaviour in the days leading up to the Friday 13 tragedy.

In a statement to police, Jennifer Finnigan said: “Between Tuesday and Thursday, she phoned a few times and texted several times and mentioned Johnson had been mentioning thread in his eyes and people who can’t be trusted need to be killed like snakes, by cutting their heads off.

“She mentioned him saying he was the chosen one and was staying awake all night looking at the sky with the telescope.”

Miss Finnigan told police her daughter had tried to convince Johnson to get help from his doctor, and even made an appointment for him, but he refused to go. Miss Bennett told police her brother was “wide eyed and evil looking” in the days before the killing. She said Miss Finnigan had confided in her the day before she was killed.

Miss Bennett told police: “Gemma rang me that morning, saying Danny had been up at 4am, praying by the side of the bed, and had said things like he was going to meet with Simon Cowell, and Gemma should go to college and enrol in acting or singing, and he would be a talent spotter.”

The worried sister, her partner and child visited the couple in Boldon that night and said he still “appeared grey in colour and evil in look”.

She said she exchanged text messages with Miss Finnigan after she and her family left.

She said in her statement: “At one point, I asked her if she felt safe around Danny. She texted me back to say she felt safe. It was Danny she was more worried about.”

Experts say the killing, at which point Johnson was in a psychotic state due to paranoid schizophrenia, happened at between 3.30am and 4am the next day.

A post-mortem examination concluded Miss Finnigan died as a result of strangulation as well as 12 stab wounds to her front and back. She had two minor cuts to her neck and bruising.

•The trial continues