Brixton man jailed for 21 years for murder of Croydon grandmother

Lorna Smith was found stabbed to death in Morrish Road, Brixton

By Tim Dickens, at the Old Bailey

A Brixton man who stabbed his former lover to death before going on a 14-hour drinking binge has been sentenced to at least 21 years in prison.

Clifford Mills, 49 had stalked his ex-girlfriend, 45-year-old Lorna Smith, on Facebook before luring her to his Morrish Road flat, in Brixton, and murdering her in February last year.

He admitted his brutal crime 14 hours later, when he handed himself into St Thomas’ Hospital claiming that someone called Stan, who lived in his head, had stabbed his former partner.

Sentencing Mills at the Old Bailey today, judge Brian Barker said: “This was a  terrible act. It was a shocking waste of a productive and loyal life.

“It was a violent explosion of violence that lead to the death of someone who had done everything she could to help you.”

The judge added he did not believe Mills suffered from a mental disorder, but employed “manipulation and malignancy” when being treated by doctors.

A bearded, balding Mills sat impassively in his wheelchair in court as the sentence was given.

He was dressed in grey jogging bottoms, t-shirt and burgundy slippers.

Clifford Mills
Clifford Mills

Police discovered Miss Smith’s body slumped on the sofa of the Morrish Road apartment. She had a plastic carrier bag over her head and the song Stop the Clocks, by Oasis, was playing on repeat.  The court heard in gruesome detail about multiple wounds, caused by a kitchen knife and a pickaxe handle.

In a statement read out in court today, Miss Smith’s daughter, Louise Harvey, said: “It still feels as raw and painful today as it did at the time.”

She said of her mother: “I loved her with all of my heart and not a day goes by that I don’t think about her.”

The mother of three young children added; “When my mum was killed I was three months pregnant. Although I was absolutely devastated I was worried that my grief could cause the loss of my unborn child.”

Ms Harvey has two other children, aged 3 and 2, who will now grow up without their grandmother.

Mills pleaded guilty to manslaughter but not guilty to murder, saying he was suffering from “mental abnormalities” at the time of the murder. The court heard that he had gone on hunger strike while in custody, contributing to his ill health.

The judge said he had a “long history of football violence and domestic violence.”

After the judge passed sentence someone in the public gallery stood up, pointed to Mills and shouted: “This isn’t over you f*****g tramp.”

Miss Smith’s brother, Tony Smith said on Friday, “Lorna was a honest, decent and innocent woman and how she could ever have been involved with this pure evil and manipulative man is beyond us, but again, she never judged people harshly which is testament to her true personality.”



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