A 24-year-old man who stabbed his new fianceé to death just hours after they celebrated their engagement with a party at their flat in South London, has been given a life sentence for her murder.
Ivan Griffin was on Tuesday, 10 October sentenced at the Old Bailey to a minimum of 16 and a half years in prison for stabbing Sabrina Mullings to death.
Griffin was previously convicted on Monday, 25 September at the same court of murdering the 38-year-old in the early hours of Monday, 13 March at the Croydon home they shared.
The trial heard that the pair had been in a relationship for just four months after meeting while neighbours in the same residential block in Ravensdale Gardens, SE19.
Footage shown to the court revealed that just hours earlier on the evening of Sunday, 12 March, Griffin and Sabrina were enjoying dancing together at an impromptu celebration captured on the mobile phone of the victim’s daughter Hayleigh, 22, who together with her boyfriend Chaise Gore shared the flat.
However, just hours after Hayleigh and Chaise had said goodnight to them, leaving them in the living room, where the couple slept, they were disturbed by the pair. They were then woken up at 05:30hrs by the sounds of Griffin shouting and banging, with crashing noises coming from within the living room.
Hayleigh testified that she heard her mother shouting for help, saying: “Hayleigh, if you love me you will call an ambulance, he’s stabbed himself and you need to save him.”
Both she and her boyfriend desperately tried to reach Sabrina to help her, banging on the living room door and shouting to Griffin, but he had barricaded the door shut and refused to open it.
Although they were unable to see what was happening in the room, they could clearly hear Griffin making comments about “devil worship” and “having to cleanse her soul.”
Hayleigh and Chaise retreated to their bedroom until Griffin opened the living room door and made his way into their room. Griffin was fully dressed, but lifted up his upper clothing to reveal stab wounds to his chest and abdomen that he said he had caused to himself. He apologised to them both for what he had done before he calmly left the flat.
Hayleigh and Chaise then made their way the living room where they were confronted with a horrific scene. Sabrina was lying naked on the kitchen floor bleeding from several injuries. As Chaise rushed to her side to try and administer first aid, he heard Sabrina utter Hayleigh’s name just before she died.
An ambulance was called, followed by police, but paramedics were unable to save Sabrina and she was pronounced dead at 06:48hrs at the scene. A subsequent post-mortem examination gave the cause of death as stab wounds to the abdomen and chest.
CCTV footage played to the jury revealed that Griffin spent the hours after the murder wandering around the streets of south London, semi-naked and bleeding from his injury.
Members of the public reported seeing him Camberwell, walking into traffic, and police found him at around 16:00hrs on New Kent Road in Southwark.
He was arrested on suspicion of murder and taken to a south London hospital for treatment over several days. After he was discharged he was taken into custody at a south London police station and charged on Friday, 17 March with the murder of Sabrina Mullings, offering no explanation during police interviews for his actions.
Detective Chief Inspector Will Reynolds, of the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command, who led the investigation, said:
“Griffin callously and viciously attacked a vulnerable, trusting woman that he purported to love and had asked to marry him. He subjected her daughter, Hayleigh, and her boyfriend to the terrible ordeal of hearing the attack on Sabrina but being prevented from helping her, and then callously fled the scene. Her death has left the family utterly devastated.
“I am pleased that the jury did not accept the argument put forward of diminished responsibility and have rightly found Griffin fully accountable for his appalling actions of that terrible night on which Sabrina lost her life.”
Sabrina’s mother Marian Mullings, in her victim impact statement for the court, described the effect the loss of her daughter has had on her, her granddaughter Hayleigh and her boyfriend Chaise, and the wider family.
“Sabrina has always been a very creative person, with a great imagination, and she was very artistic. Wherever she lived she took pride in her home,” she recalled.
“She was a warm and loving person and very much wore her heart on her sleeve. The loss and trauma of her death have been immense. Not only did Hayleigh and Chaise have to go through the ordeal of what they saw and heard the morning she was killed, but they had to leave the house as it beame a crime scene and [ultimately] lost their right to remain there as the property was in Sabrina’s name.
“Hayleigh has had trouble sleeping at all ever since. She says she keeps seeing everything that took place, her mum lying naked on the floor and bleeding, and she can’t get rid of the images. She feels lost and numb and like half of her heart has been ripped out.
“I only hope Sabrina did not have to suffer in pain for too long due to the nature of her injuries. One of the worst things for me was finding out that the weapon used to stab Sabrina was a knife I had bought her as part of a set to use in her home. This is something I don’t feel I will ever get over. Now I go to bed at night and all I can see is her lying on the floor injured, surrounded by blood with that knife next to her.
“We are going to have to live with this forever. All we have now are our memories, we cannot understand how Ivan could claim to love her, get engaged to her, then only a few hours later stab her with a knife and leave her alone and in pain to die and her own daughter to deal with the situation. Our lives will never be the same without Sabrina”