A KILLER who tried to hack off his ex-girlfriend’s head in front of her children at her Millom home has failed to have his sentence altered.

Mentally-ill Benjamin Cooper was sent to a secure hospital after admitting the manslaughter of Claire Marshall and attempted murder of his stepfather Gerald Fern.

Cooper, 36, of Wellington Street, Millom, was given a rare ‘hybrid’ sentence at Preston Crown Court in February. This meant that if he was assessed as being well again by doctors he could be sent straight to prison. But on Monday, Jeffrey Samuels QC urged Lord Justice Leveson to quash the prison part of his sentence to allow Cooper to walk free as soon as doctors said he was safe.

However, the judge, sitting with Mr Justice Davis and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones at the Court of Appeal, upheld the sentence.

Cooper hacked at the throat of Ms Marshall, 35, with a small pen-knife before he picked up a larger kitchen knife to slash her from “ear to ear”. The couple had moved from Wiltshire to Millom but they separated in January 2008. Ms Marshall was said to be on the brink of moving back when she was killed in January the following year.

Believing she was plotting to have him killed, Cooper attacked her at her home and then proceeded to attempt to behead her in front of her two daughters. Afterwards he drove to Mr Fern’s home in Mainsgate Road and attacked him with a meat cleaver and knives.

It was decided Cooper bore at least some responsibility for his actions, having potentially sparked his illness with his drug-use.