A MAN who murdered his maths graduate ex-girlfriend in an "unprovoked, jealousy-fuelled attack" following the breakdown of their relationship has been jailed for life.

Joe Atkinson, 25, stabbed "bright and brilliant" Poppy Devey Waterhouse 23 times in the head and neck with a kitchen knife at a flat she was due to move out of two days after the murder.

The "cruel and senseless" killing in the early hours came just two months after the pair had split in October 2018 following a three-year relationship.

They had both started seeing other people but Atkinson could not accept Miss Devey Waterhouse wanted a future without him, a court heard.

He had witnessed her with a new partner on a night out in Leeds City Centre and punched the man in November, the court heard.

On December 13, after attending Christmas celebrations with his work friends, Atkinson returned to the flat where he carried out the brutal assault on Miss Devey Waterhouse in her bedroom and hallway.

She sustained over 100 injuries during the attack - with over 49 knife injuries to her body including 23 to her head and neck.

Miss Devey Waterhouse also suffered bruising and injuries consistent with trying to prevent restraint, the court heard.

Following the attack, Atkinson then drove to the Bramham area of Leeds, West Yorks., to dispose of his clothes and the murder weapon - which has not been recovered by police.

Atkinson did not call 999 for three hours after the attack because he was "scared" and when ambulance staff arrived, they found the victim in a pool of blood near the entrance to the flat.

After being arrested by officers, Atkinson initially blamed the attack on Miss Devey Waterhouse.

The couple were keen travellers who shared photos from their trips abroad to countries such as Morocco, Lithuania and Greece.

Atkinson pleaded guilty to murder last week and was today (Fri) jailed for life with a minimum term of 16 years and two months and at Leeds Crown Court.

During the highly-charged hearing, Miss Devey Waterhouse's mother Julie Devey, father Rupert Waterhouse and brother Zeb all read victim impact statements from the witness box.

Her mother Julie said "half" of her had died on the day of her daughter's murder and she had been living in a "dense, grey fog" since the day.

She said: "Half of me died on Friday, December 14.

"My baby, my daughter, my life as I know it has ended, has died suddenly, violently and cruelly.

"As a parent, my basic duty is to keep my daughter safe.

"I failed and I have kept that failure with me wherever I go.

"The future does not exist to me.

"All I see is a dense grey fog."

She described the moment she was taken from her office at work to be told of her daughter's death and how she clawed at the carpet screaming "no, no no".

She concluded her impact statement in tears, stating: "Today we are all here to witness the sentencing of Joe Atkinson, but my life sentence has already begun."

Mr Waterhouse, the victim's father, described her as "beautiful and brilliant".

The court heard how she was the only person in William Hill's history to be given a verdict of "remarkable" at a job appraisal during her first year.

Mr Waterhouse said: "She was killed by the man she shared her life with, who she trusted and felt safe with.

"The man who destroyed all our lives that morning."

Prosecutor Jason Pitter said: "In short, he had armed himself with a kitchen knife and murdered Poppy in an unprovoked attack fuelled by his jealousy."

Forensic evidence showed that Poppy bravely tried to fight off her attacker, only to succumb to her injuries in the blood-stained hallway of her home.

Mitigating, Defence barrister Richard Wright QC told a court that Atkinson was 'fuelled by jealousy' but that 'his behaviour was in very sense a complete and utter aberration'.

He said: "He abandons utterly any suggestion that Poppy instigated any violence.

"The defendant lost his mother to cancer at the age of 18 and never grieved properly, focusing instead on work.

"That, combined with drink, led to his explosion of emotion.

"His behaviour was in every sense an utter aberration.

"He gave absolutely no sign to anybody of what was to come.

"It arose in temper, in this case, temper fuelled by jealousy."

Mr Wright QC said Atkinson wanted to convey his "utmost shame, regret and apology".

The Honourable Mr Justice Lavender said Atkinson told police: "I don't know how many times I stabbed her.

"I just kept going.

"I only stopped when it went calm and she stopped moving."

Sentencing him today, Mr Justice Lavender said Atkinson had cut Miss Devey Waterhouse's life "cruelly and senselessly short".

He said: "In your own words, I don't know how many times I stabbed her I just didn't stop until she went calm'.

"This was clearly a frenzied and savage attack. It was a brutal, savage death.

"Poppy Devey Waterhouse was a young woman with so much going for her. She had earned a first class honours degree and was excelling in her chosen career.

"She had so many opportunities in her life, but you brought an end to that. You put an end to it, and brought misery to the lives of her loved ones."

Miss Devey Waterhouse graduated with a master's in statistics from the University of Nottingham in 2016.

She was working as a quantitative trading analyst for bookmaker William Hill at the time of her death.

She also had a bachelor's degree in financial mathematics and had achieved A*s in maths and further maths A-levels as well as an A in law.

Miss Devey Waterhouse got 9 A*s and 3 As in her GCSEs at Frome Community College in Somerset, where she was from.