AS the callous killer of young mum-to-be Eystna Blunnie this week started a life sentence for her murder, the parents of his tragic victim said justice had prevailed.
After a two-week trial it took the jury at Chelmsford Crown Court just two hours to convict Tony McLernon (24) of killing his former girlfriend and causing the death of their unborn child.
Yesterday (Wednesday) he was caged for a minimum of 27 years.
During the trial the jury heard a harrowing account of how he viciously attacked Ms Blunnie in a drink and drug-fuelled frenzy in the early hours of June 27 last year.
He had sent her a text in which he told her to meet him in Howard Way, Harlow, telling her he had a “surprise” for her. But when she turned up he forced her to the ground and repeatedly kicked and stamped on her.
Ms Blunnie was later found in a pool of blood with more than 50 separate head and facial injuries. She died later the same day in Princess Alexandra Hospital. Doctors were unable to save her baby girl, who was due to be born a few days later.
Unemployed McLernon, of North Grove, Harlow, was found guilty of murder and child destruction. He denied both charges.
In a statement released after his conviction, Ms Blunnie’s family said: “In June of 2012 our family was shattered by the death of a loving daughter, Eystna, and her unborn child, Rose. The worst part was to find out that their deaths were such a brutal murder.
“However, today justice has prevailed for our daughter and granddaughter with the conviction of their killer.”
Thanking the police and legal teams as well as family and friends for their support and those who helped Ms Blunnie after the attack, they added: “We would like now to be left with our family to try and rebuild our lives and remember Eystna and Rose in our hearts and minds.”
Detective Chief Inspector Lucy Rob-inson, the senior investigating officer in the case, said: “Tony McLernon is a dangerous, violent man. He subjected numerous ex-girlfriends to constant fear of being assaulted and Eystna paid the ultimate price during his final violent outburst.
“Throughout the thorough police investigation he has not sought to explain his actions, nor has he admitted his guilt or shown any remorse.”