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Mum murdered during school run by ex who refused to pay child support

Mark Morris murdered Emma Day (Image: Met Police)

Emma Day, 33, was stabbed to death in the street by ex Mark Morris after he chillingly told her “I’ll go to prison before you get a penny from me”. He was jailed for life in 2017 after admitting the murder. 

An inquest into her death at Southwark Coroner’s Court heard Morris threatened to kill Emma if she did not cancel the £2,000-a-year child maintenance claim.

Emma cancelled the first application, and was murdered shortly after the second application six months later. 

Emma’s sister Lorna McNamara wrote in a statement to the inquest that Emma had “said something to her like ‘I wish he would kill me so I would be free of him’.

The week before the murder, Morris is said to have told his daughter he “wouldn’t see her a long time” and mentioned to Emma in a text message that there would be a “final showdown.”

Emma, who had a son from a previous relationship, was with Morris for around eight years but Morris was “controlling” and a “bully”, the inquest heard.

Emma Day and sister Lorna

Lorna McNamara (left) spoke at Emma’s (right) inquest (Image: Collect)

I’m also very concerned about the fact that Emma did not believe police could or would protect her. I strongly believe these feelings came directly from her experience with them in April 2016

Emma Day’s sister Lorna McNamara

She split with him in March 2016 with Lorna telling the inquest Morris had an “issue” with money and never wanted to pay her any for household bills or food shopping, and would also “stay upstairs when her family came over”.

The pair had a six-year-old daughter at the time of Emma’s murder in May 2017.

The inquest heard that, in April 2016, Emma reported Morris to the police and applied for a non-molestation order after he sent her a barrage of “nasty” text messages on the day she was due to scatter her mother’s ashes.

He was said to be unhappy she had dropped the children off at a friend’s house to attend the crematorium after he had turned up “drunk” to look after them.

In November, Emma opened a claim with the Child Maintenance Service but Morris is said to have told her “you won’t like what will happen to you if you do.”

He then waited outside the hospital she worked at and sat on the bus home behind her, shouting at her to drop the claim.

Lorna McNamara

Lorna sits beside a picture of her murdered sister (Image: Collect)

Emma cancelled the claim with the Child Maintenance Service, it was said, but did not report the incident to police.

Giving evidence, Lorna said: “By the time she got off the bus she was so scared that he was going to physically hurt her.

“I said to her she should inform the police but she just said every time ‘there’s no point they are not going to do anything’.

“She felt she was wasting the police’s time.”

Asked by the coroner why Emma did not renew the non-molestation order when it expired in April 2017, Lorna said: “The reason it was not taken out was the amount of money it cost her to take the first one out.

“At the time she didn’t realise how much it was going to cost. When she got the solicitor bill she was quite shocked by how much it was.

“She had to come up with a payment plan to pay back the solicitor. She said she couldn’t afford [to renew] it.”

Emma Day murder scene

Police investigate after the murder in south London (Image: Croydon Advertiser)

In April 2017 Emma decided to make a new claim with the CMS as Morris continued to refuse to pay maintenance for their daughter.

The inquest heard Emma made a police statement after Morris repeatedly phoned and texted her telling her to drop the claim. 

Senior Coroner Andrew Harris said: “He said he would rather be in prison or die than give her money. He said he would kill her and she said ‘your child will have no mother’ and he said ‘I would rather that’.”

Lorna said: “I think that’s the first time he said he was going to kill her.”Lorna also told the court her “blood ran cold” when Emma’s daughter told her mum Morris had “said his goodbyes to her” on her last visit.

Mr Harris said: “Mark had been with their daughter for the day and at the end of the day he said to her, ‘I’m so sorry’ and she wouldn’t be seeing him for a very long time.

“You both thought it was strange but in retrospect it made sense. You weren’t sure if he wasn’t planning to see her anymore and didn’t know why he said that to her.”

Tributes to Emma Day

Tributes were left to the mum (Image: Croydon Advertiser)

On May 25, the day of the murder, Emma’s eldest son came home from school and said he had seen Morris on the corner near the primary school.

Emma went to pick up her daughter from school and stayed inside while trying to phone a friend to walk her home, but refused offers from the school to phone the police.

Lorna told the inquest her sister phoned her while inside the school and she heard her “snap” at her daughter, before saying: “I have got to go.”

She said: “That was the last time I spoke to her.”

Lorna told the inquest she thinks the Child Maintenance Service should have different strategies in place to deal with applications by victims of domestic violence.

Lorna said: “People go to the CMS because there’s a breakdown in the relationship obviously to do with money.

“If everything is fine between the couple, the people wouldn’t need to use that service.

“When somebody discloses they are a victim of domestic violence then there should be more questions about domestic violence.

“Maybe a risk assessment about how someone who is abusive is going to react to a claim when money is involved.”

Mark Morris

Morris was jailed for life in 2017 (Image: Met Police)

Lorna added: “I’m also very concerned about the fact that Emma did not believe police could or would protect her. I strongly believe these feelings came directly from her experience with them in April 2016.

“Emma was scared of Mark, that’s why she reported him and why she withdrew her claim in December 2016. The reason she didn’t report him in May 2017 is because she didn’t believe the police would do anything.”

In a statement read to the court about the impact on the family, Lorna said: “Since that day our lives have never been the same, I can’t put into words the destruction and devastation that my sister’s untimely death has had.

“The grief and upset are so difficult to express, it is constant suffering that never subsides and it feels like I’m carrying the children’s anguish as well as my own.

“It’s a nightmare I can’t wake up from, I relive the entire scenario over and over in my head. It has left a huge hole in the lives of close friends who she held dear to her heart.”

Emma Day

Emma was killed on the school run (Image: Met Police)

The coroner read an independent management review from the Met Police, which said on the day of the murder, Emma asked friend Sallie Clarke to walk home from her daughter’s school with her, after Morris was spotted hanging around outside.

As they started to walk home, Mark “appeared from an alleyway” and Emma told the children to walk on to the flat.

The pair argued for around 20 minutes about the CMS application – with Morris “appearing to be under the influence of alcohol” – before Emma decided to leave, according to the report.

The coroner read: “The friend states that as they walked away from Mark she heard him drop a bag he was carrying, and saw him run towards Emma holding a large knife.

“She saw him stab Emma in the back and heard Emma say ‘What are you doing?’ The friend stated she told Emma to run and tried to push Mark away.

“She placed herself between him and Emma but was unable to prevent Mark inflicting further injury to Emma. She collapsed to the ground and Mark fled the scene.”

Emma was pronounced dead at the scene.

A pathologist found Emma had five stab wounds, two to the back, two to the neck and one at the top of the leg.

A cause of death was given as “multiple incised wounds”.

The coroner also read a statement from Morris’ mother Marie, who said her son called her after the murder and said: “Mum I have done it.”

She added: “I said ‘what have you done?’ and he said ‘the thing we spoke about, I have stabbed her’.

“He seemed calm as he was speaking to me but there was a fear in his voice, and remorse. The way he was talking made me believe something had happened.”

Morris was arrested two days later, the inquest heard.

The inquest continues.

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