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The Headless Corpse and the Pop Singer

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Ex-lover of Gabrielle 'beheaded stepfather'

By Tom Leonard

A FORMER lover of the pop singer, Gabrielle, beheaded his stepfather with a Japanese sword and later stayed at the star's London flat while he set fire to a car used in the killing, a court was told yesterday.

Anthony Antoniou, 30, and a close friend used the 2ft-long sword and a commando knife to murder Walter McCarthy before dumping his headless body at Cutthroat Bridge, a beauty spot in the Peak District, a jury was told.

The victim was stabbed 52 times after he was duped into going to Manchester with Antoniou and Timothy Redhead, Nottingham Crown Court heard. Stab wounds to Mr McCarthy's back and hands suggested that he was attacked while he was sitting in the front passenger seat of Antoniou's car, Peter Joyce, QC, prosecuting, said.

Antoniou, who is the father of Gabrielle's young son, Jordan, allegedly stabbed Mr McCarthy, 59, in the back with a commando knife as the car drew into a layby on the A57. Redhead, 29, who was driving the Nissan turbo, also attacked him, the court was told. They even tried to cut off his left hand before cutting off his head, said Mr Joyce.

The body was hidden behind rocks while the head was buried 150 miles away in woodland in Bedfordshire. Mr Joyce said the body was identified by documents left in his clothes when police discovered it a day after the murder in December 1995.

He said the defendants had selected the location, a lonely stretch of moorland at Moscar, during an earlier "reconnaissance mission". The court heard that Antoniou, who owned a fish and chip shop in Sheffield called The Lazy Coddling, had bought the murder weapons from a friend in the preceding November.

Mr McCarthy, of Halifax Road, Sheffield, married Antoniou's mother, Aphrodite, in 1979. She returned to Cyprus in September 1995. Antoniou, a Greek Cypriot, started a relationship with Gabrielle, 27 - real name Louise Bobb and voted best female artist at this year's Brit Awards - in 1992, even though he was married, the court heard.

After the killing, Antoniou appeared at her flat "out of the blue", Mr Joyce said. While staying there he set the car involved in the killing on fire in a nearby street, Mr Joyce added.

He said that, after Antoniou was arrested, he eventually admitted killing his stepfather, claiming that Mr McCarthy had boasted to his mother that he had had an affair with another woman and also liked to abuse boys and girls sexually.

Antoniou, of Parsons Cross, Sheffield, and Redhead, of Woodhouse, Sheffield, deny murder.

The case continues.

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MACABRE COINCIDENCE

A recent murder case seemed to have more than a hint within it of the more macabre side to the symbolic meaning of the severed head. Defendant Anthony Antoniou told the court at Nottingham that he started arguing with his stepfather in his car, pulled up in a lay-by and killed him with a Japanese ceremonial sword; he then used the sword to behead the man, believing that the brain would still be alive for 20 minutes after death and would be able to understand him.

"I wanted to have a little chat with him...I talked to him until the 20 minutes was up. I put my two fingers on his nose and mouth to see if he was still breathing. I was convinced he was still alive. I was in a world of my own. I did not plan it...".

Other weird overlaps echo in this story: the headless body was discovered, presumably where the unplanned murder and decapitation took place, at Cutthroat Bridge, Derbyshire; after the murder, Antoniou said, he dragged the body from the car to behead it and then picked the head up by the hair and placed it in the passenger seat while he talked to it, later putting the head in a bag in the boot.

For its final journey, to being buried in a Bedfordshire wood near Luton (not named in the report), the severed head sat between Antoniou's feet, bizarrely reminiscent of bygone rites to stop the dead walking. [Yorkshire Post, 13-3-97]

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GABRIELLE

Gabrielle has had her fair share of problems, if not more. In 1995, just after she won a Brit for Best Newcomer, Gabrielle's former partner, Tony Antoniou was charged with the murder of his step-father and was subsequently jailed for life, leaving Gabrielle to raise her son alone. Although she would not discuss this, she did admit that “without life’s complexities, self-growth and self-awareness is not achieved.” This is a conscientious woman, who has stood in the eye of a storm and remained.

“I’ve come a long way ’cos I’ve gone through a lot of things, and I think that had I not had to go through certain experiences, I probably wouldn’t have got this far. You look at life in a different way because of experiences, you kind of get involved in certain things and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, this didn’t happen!’ I think I’m a better person really for the fact that I appreciate life and people around me a lot more, it’s just one of those things.”

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Pop star in tears after testifying against ex-lover

By Maurice Weaver

THE pop star Gabrielle wept outside a courtroom yesterday after giving evidence in the murder trial of her former lover, the father of her one-year-old son, Jordan.

The singer, whose real name is Louise Bobb, told a jury that the defendant, Anthony Antoniou, 30, owner of a fish-and-chip shop in Sheffield, was "a kind and considerate man who would spoil me rotten". Gabrielle, 29, the winner of the Best British Female Artist accolade in last month's Brit Awards, was giving evidence for the prosecution against Antoniou.

He and Timothy Redhead, 29, are accused at Nottingham Crown Court of stabbing Antoniou's stepfather, Walter McCarthy, 59, after a row. This is alleged to have started when the victim boasted of having affairs and abusing children. The defendants are said by the prosecution to have decapitated the body with a 2ft sword. They deny the charges.

The singer told the court of Antoniou: "He was always romantic, buying me presents and giving me little surprises." Killing someone would be "totally out of character" for him, she added.

Her involvement in the trial stems from the fact that, some time after the victim's death in 1995, Antoniou unexpectedly arrived at her London flat and she had allowed him to stay while she visited her mother.

The murder is said to have taken place in a Nissan car, the body being dumped at Cut-Throat Bridge in Derbyshire and the head buried in woods in Bedfordshire. The Nissan was found abandoned in London and it was around this time, it is alleged, that Antoniou looked up Gabrielle and made use of her flat.

Questioned by the prosecution counsel, Peter Joyce, QC, she agreed that police had later shown her a set of car keys which were not hers and a London A-Z map which had once been.

She said she could not explain to detectives who visited her in January 1996, why the book was earmarked at a page showing the road where the Nissan was found.

Looking back over her relationship with Antoniou, she said their relationship had begun "on a business footing" but they had then become lovers. She had made a number of trips with him, including a holiday in Cyprus where she met his mother and his stepfather. Antoniou had attended the birth of their child.

As she gave her evidence the defendant scribbled a note which was passed to her by his solicitor as she left the courtroom. In the lobby outside she broke down and was taken to a room to recover.

The trial continues.

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Gabrielle 'did not suspect' jailed ex-boyfriend

Singer Gabrielle says she could not believe her ex-boyfriend was a murderer until she read his confession.

Tony Antoniou, the father of the Brit-winning star's son, denied murdering Walter McCarthy and disposing of his decapitated body, but was jailed for life two years ago.

The 30-year-old singer of Dreams told Marie Claire magazine that even after she was taken in for questioning by the police, she could not believe promoter and businessman Antoniou could have committed such a horrific crime.

"It was only when I read a copy of his statement that it hit home," she said. "It was like reading a Stephen King novel, except that I knew all the characters."

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Cutthroat Bridge

Cutthroat Bridge near Ladybower reservoir takes its gruesome name from a 400-year-old murder.

An old document tells us that a chap named Robert Ridge came across a man with a wound in his throat in Eashaw Clough. The proper name is Highshaw Clough but local dialect gives us Eashaw.

The man was still alive. Ridge and other helpers carried him to a house half a mile away, and then on to Bamford Hall where he died two days later.

The victim had been found lying about 40 yards (37m) from where a road bridge was later built. Remembering the murder, local people always referred to it as Cutthroat Bridge.

The present Cutthroat Bridge was built in 1821. Another murder victim was found here a few years ago, minus his head. Two Sheffield men were charged with causing his death.

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GABRIELLE

Singer Gabrielle revealed that her career was nearly destroyed by the shock of seeing her former lover jailed for murder. Suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder, she refused to drink fluids when away from her own home because of a bizarre fear of going to the toilet. Taking in so little water meant her vocal chords dehydrated to the point where she was in danger of losing her voice.

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Chart star Gabrielle has revealed her nightmare experience as she was questioned by police investigating a macabre headless body murder.

The stunning soul singer, who has shot straight to No. 2 with If You Ever, recorded with East 17, was freed after a five-hour interrogation. But now she dreads being a prosecution witness against ex-lover Tony Antoniou, father of her 17-month-old baby Jordan.

Gabrielle, 26, said: "It will bring everything to the surface again. Knowing it's coming up one day is always at the back of my mind."

Antoniou has been accused of the murder of 59-year-old Walter McCarthy, who was found with his head hacked off at Cut Throat Bridge high in the Pennines four days before Christmas. Gabrielle said: "I got the shock of my life when the police turned up at my house. It took me about 15 minutes to even register properly what they were saying.

"In the police station my adrenalin was pumping like it's never pumped before. They kept asking me whether I'd given Tony money to escape but I barely knew what was going on.

"I was questioned for five hours and all I can say is, thank God they didn't keep me there overnight.

"I can't take confined spaces. The whole thing freaked me out so much I wanted to commit suicide. People read I was arrested in connection with a gruesome murder, and they imagined I might be an accomplice.

"Children's TV didn't want me to go on and I've got a little boy of my own. How do you think that made me feel? I cried until I had no more tears. When I was hauled into that police station I cursed the day I'd ever met Tony, whether he's guilty or innocent.

"After all, my child's father is associated with a gruesome, horrible murder and that's a dreadful feeling.

"Just to know that somebody you made love to and trusted completely is suspected of something so shocking, has been very difficult for me to cope with.

"The whole thing mucked up my brain. I didn't sleep for weeks. I hung on to my sanity by a very thin thread."

Gabrielle was shocked when police told her Tony had a new girlfriend who is expecting his child.

She said: "The day I gave birth was the last time I ever saw Tony.

"We'd been together for three years and I loved him with all my heart. He was my ideal man. He was kind, considerate and spoiled me rotten. He was incredibly romantic, bought me little surprise presents and took me on lovely holidays.

"But towards the end of my pregnancy we started growing apart. He'd say he was coming to see me and just not appear, then leave me waiting for weeks for him to call.

"Now I'm thankful my son doesn't know his father.

"Tony never made an effort to come and see Jordan when he was a free man, so why should I drag the baby to a filthy prison to see his father on remand? No way!"

Gabrielle's chart success helps to keep her mind off her ordeal.

She said: "It's something I have to conquer and I'm winning because I think I've gone through the worst."

Copyright 1996 MGN LTD

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Gabrielle: 'Violent shock triggered obsession'

4:53:48 PM

Pop star Gabrielle has revealed how her career was nearly destroyed by obsessive compulsive disorder.

The psychological disorder left her with a bizarre fear of going to the toilet.

Her bathroom phobia meant she refused to drink fluids when outside her own home.

Taking in so little water meant her vocal cords dehydrated to the point where she was in danger of losing the voice which made her a million-selling star.

Gabrielle, 34, told London’s Evening Standard how the psychological condition was triggered by the shock of seeing her former lover jailed for murder.

“I knew having this obsessive compulsive disorder was causing such bizarre behaviour – just thinking about drinking was enough to make me want to go to the loo – but I couldn’t fight those thoughts and I allowed them to control me,” she said.

“And what’s worse is that I knew this behaviour was potentially destroying my singing career.

“Doctors told me that my persistently sore throat, the reason I was unable to sing properly, was due to terribly dehydrated vocal cords and so ordered me to drink loads of water. But I tend to drink as little as possible so I won’t have to use other people’s loos.”

The singer, who had a number one hit with her debut single Dreams and has sold nearly seven million albums, developed obsessive compulsive disorder in 1997.

It was triggered by the horrific murder carried out by her former love Tony Antoniou.

Antoniou, the father of her son Jordan, beheaded his own stepfather with a Samurai sword.

Her condition began to develop when she learned the terrible news. It worsened when she discovered Antoniou stayed at her house while she was away, when on the run from police.

Gabrielle gave evidence at Antoniou’s trial and he was jailed for life.

At first the singer became agoraphobic and developed an obsession with hygiene, showering four times a day and repeatedly washing her hands until her palms were raw.

Like fellow sufferer Paul Gascoigne, she became unable to leave the house without going through an elaborate series of checks.

“I’d check the kitchen and the dining room in turn. I’d check the handles on the doors, and the window locks, and that the knobs on the cooker were facing the right way to check they weren’t on. And I had to do it in the right order. If I forgot one of the things I couldn’t go out until I’d done them all again,” she recalled.

Because of her phobia of visiting the toilet, she refused to accept drinks in restaurants, bars or other people’s houses.

For the first few years she was able to maintain her successful career.

But when she went into the studio to record her new album at the beginning of last year she found she could no longer sing.

Doctors diagnosed throat nodules exacerbated by lack of fluids and told her she must drink water to save her voice.

They also ordered her to rest her voice completely for six months.

She claims her psychological disorder is now under control and is currently promoting her new album and single.

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Louise Gabrielle Bobb was, as she put it, a 'pop kid', filling her head with the sounds of Adam and The Ants and Wham!. 'Then I'd go into my mum's record collection and dig out Marvin Gaye, Barry White, Bobby Womack and Dennis Brown,' she recalled. Gabrielle refused to be hampered by a lazy right eye-lid, which an eye-patch could easily cover up, and when her mother told her to 'go for it and make your dreams come true', she had the idea for a song. In 1991, she recorded 'Dreams', co-written with Tim Laws, and produced by Victor Trim. It included a sample from Tracy Chapman's low-key hit 'Fast Car', and created a buzz on London's underground R&B scene.

Chapman objected to the use of her song, so 'Dreams' was re- recorded without the sample. In June 1993, the single launched the London-born soul diva into the charts at No 1: the highest UK entry ever for a debut female artist. But it wouldn't be an easy ride at the top. Once 'Dreams' was a hit, Trim took her to court over copyright ownership. Then, in 1994, she became pregnant and her dreams began to turn very dark. On the day her son Jordan was born, the baby's father, Tony Antoniou, walked out on them. If that wasn't bad enough, a few months later Antoniou was jailed for life for the murder of his stepfather.

The stress left Gabrielle with an obsessive-compulsive disorder and nearly destroyed her career. She bounced back in 2000 with the No 1 hit 'Rise'. 'Sometimes I feel like I'm on the biggest blag ever and one day people will realise and it will all be over,' she once said about her early success. 'Everything was amazing. That is what I always say to people, dreams do come true.'

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Make a wish, Gabrielle

IN hindsight, it now seems entirely fitting that Gabrielle’s career should have started in 1993 with the smash hit chart success of Dreams.

Whether by accident or design, that bit of foresight leads us perfectly to the present day, as the sassy soul queen from Hackney is preparing to perform tracks from Dreams Can Come True — the first volume of her greatest hits — at Manchester’s Apollo.

Call to mind hits such as 'Rise', 'When A Woman', 'If You Ever', 'Out Of Reach' and 'Give Me A Little More Time', and both titles appear entirely apt.

Judging from her cool public persona — further enhanced by a trademark eyepatch — most fans might believe that Gabrielle had always had some game plan in mind. But surprisingly, they’d be wrong.

‘‘Y’know, sometimes I feel like I’m on the biggest blag ever and that one day people will realise and it will all be over,’’ she says, only half-joking.

‘‘I just keep hoping they never find out — or that I get better at pretending.’’

Whatever the reasons behind her success, Gabrielle’s have just kept on coming since Dreams was plucked from the relative obscurity of London’s underground R ’n’ B scene and placed before a far wider audience.

That audience ensured that Gabrielle’s first two albums produced a staggering six pop top 10s and a string of awards, including two BRITs, a couple of MOBOs and an American Music Award.

But it hasn’t all been plain sailing for the star, who also found herself the subject of less heartening headlines.

Before hitting the big time, she temped during the day and performed in West End clubs at night.

And when one-time boyfriend Tony Antoniou — father of her son Jordan — appeared in court on a murder charge in 1997, it became known in the newspapers as the Gabrielle Murder, even though she had absolutely no connection to the grim events.

Typically, even this emotional torment was turned to some good use — the hit single Rise captured hearts as it told of Gabrielle’s fight back to normality.

However, chart-topper or not, it is Jordan, now six, who will always be number one in the singer’s life: ‘‘He’s No 1. My career is important to me, but my son is my life. He’s very kind, very warm, very thoughtful and very funny. I’m so proud of him.’’

Fortunately, Gabrielle’s mum has been on hand to take care of Jordan since the bright lights beckoned.

And Gabrielle, now 32, also thanks her mum for being something of a guiding influence musically over the years.

‘‘Growing up, I was a pop kid,’’ she recalls.

‘‘Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall, Adam & The Ants, Wham!, Chaka Khan...

‘‘And then I’d go down into my mum’s record collection and dig out Marvin Gaye, Barry White, Bobby Womack and Dennis Brown. Recently I’ve been listening to David Gray and Eve all the time. It all goes in and comes out again as me.’’

Far from resting on her laurels, Gabrielle is already well into the writing and recording of her fourth album.

Play To Win will be released around next spring and Gabrielle will be embarking on an arena tour, calling into the Manchester Evening News Arena on June 15 next year.

In the meantime she’s still counting her blessings — 16 of them on this Greatest Hits.

‘‘Not too many of the songs I’ve been writing recently have been sad, y’know?’’ she grins in conclusion.

Like the song says, dreams can come true.

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MULTI-platinum selling soul diva Gabrielle has her hands full. Fresh from recording her long-awaited new studio album, Play To Win, out on Monday May 17, as well as new single, Stay The Same, the feisty single mother has no wish or plans to add marriage to the list.

I cant really see it happening to me. I dont think Ive ever been asked but I cant imagine anyone wanting to anyway as Im not the easiest person to live with, Im Miss Independent, she laughs warmly from behind her trademark sunglasses which I half expect her to take off at some point but she never does.

Im in a really good place right now some people are needy and want a relationship for the sake of it or they think that having a relationship will make them feel better.

But I think that its a far better relationship if you are at peace with yourself rather than looking to someone else to make you feel good and Im feeling damn good, so I really dont need anyone at the moment.

It comes as no real surprise that the down-to-earth singer, 34, is so philosophical about life and love. Nine years ago her former lover was convicted of murder, and dealing with the fallout has shaped the person she is today.

I feel that time and experiences can stabilise you and I think that Ive gone through a lot of things,she smiles confidently.

Scars

Today,the deep scars of the past are nowhere to be seen, but in December, 1995, just after she won a Brit for Best Newcomer,

Gabrielles Cypriot ex-boyfriend Tony Antoniou was charged with beheading his stepfather with a samurai sword and was subsequently jailed for life in 1997 leaving Gabrielle to bring up their baby son, Jordan, single-handedly.

Its nearly 10 years on and I dont want to be defined by this one moment, but I will say that I have totally moved on and I dont harbour any bitterness from that period.

Bitterness is like a cancer and it can eat you up inside so I have tried to just let go.

Born in east London, and still based in the area where she was brought up, the singer adds that she stopped feeling sorry for herself when she put herself in the shoes of the woman who had lost her husband.

Because I was the one in the public eye it was associated with my name more than anyone elses, but at the end of the day it was the case that someone has lost their husband, their brother, and their father.

It was a heinous crime but I had to take stock of it all for my own sanity I have a son who has no father because hes in prison after committing a major crime so you have to be strong, you have no choice.

Her soulful new single, Stay The Same, directly refers to a particular period of her life, she says and although she wont confirm exactly which one, the lyrics certainly hint at finding strength in a problematic romantic relationship .

Its about emotions that I have very much gone through and its because I am not bitter that I can write about certain aspects of my life.

Growing apart

The song itself is about love and loss and recognising that two people are growing apart rather than together and questioning that but also not having any regrets.

My friend has this saying, Let go and let God and it means that you just have to accept a situation and move on from it and do things that are right for you and your life. Definitely.

Her critically-acclaimed album Play To Win, much like the new single, illustrates a slight departure from her usual up-beat style, and among her major influences she cites the guitar and piano sounds of chart artists such as David Gray and Chris Martins Coldplay.

I dont want to do R&B as Im not an R&B artist the first album had little bit of an R&B flavour on it but thats not my forte and Im not good at it, so lets leave it to Beyonc to do her stuff and let me do mine, she giggles, joking that shed need to be far skinnier and wear fewer clothes to compete.

I think Ive kind of found my niche now I just wanted to be allowed to be and to create music I love, but its still Gabrielle, its still me.

After spending any amount of time with Gabrielle you get the feeling that her huge strength of character comes just as naturally as her musical talent although she insists that most of the credit goes to her mother.

My positivity comes from my mothers love and support, she says. Shes the one who totally encouraged me to believe in myself when other people didnt and I probably would have given up a long time ago if I didnt have her around.

Shes been there from the very beginning and shell be there when nobody else wants to know, Gabrielle grins.

Although the singer wont go into details about her family situation, her two young nieces, aged eight and one, both live with her as well as her son Jordan, nine.

Patricia

Her mother Patricia, a fully qualified social worker, has recently given up her job to help Gabrielle look after the children.

She knows that Im a bag of nerves when it comes to my children and so I felt better going away knowing that she was looking after them all, she explains.

Its great company for my son as well. Its like he has two sisters, and he is very protective of them too it was just the most natural thing to do, its lovely.

Her youngest niece joined the family at just five and a half weeks old, she reveals.

It was quite a funny time as I never imagined that I would be looking after a baby again but it was amazing its such fun watching children growing up and you have to enjoy it as it flies by pretty quickly.

And with her career and three children to occupy her, Gabrielle says she has little time for the shallow trappings of fame and celebrity.

Off the stage I dont court any part of the music industry and I feel really happy because I get to do what I really want and then I get to go home and have a normal life Im a real home-bird at heart.

Ive never been part of the in-crowd anyway and Im just comfortable with my own friends and people who I know are going to talk to me, regardless of whether Ive had a hit record or not, she smiles contentedly.

Long-term, Gabrielle really doesnt mind what happens provided she keeps singing.

So long as I can still sing and there is still a platform for me Ill be happy it doesnt even have to be a big platform, it can just be a small one and you can wheel me out and let me do my thing and then wheel me back off again!

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If anyone can find me ANY more information on this I would be extremely grateful

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Sword beheading killer 'out in three years'

By Sarah Crabtree

A KILLER who used a sword to behead his stepfather before leaving his headless corpse in a layby near Sheffield can ask to be freed as early as 2010, after a ruling by a High Court judge.

Tony Antoniou – the former partner of pop star Gabrielle, and father of her 12-year-old son Jordan – was convicted in 1997 of the horrific murder at Cutthroat Bridge of 50-year-old Walter 'Steve' McCarthy, of Halifax Road.

Former Parson Cross chip shop owner Antoniou, of Southey Green Road, was jailed for life for the murder, described by a judge as a "savage and sustained attack".

But now, after a review of the case at London's Royal Courts of Justice, top judge Mr Justice Royce ruled Antoniou – now 41 – can be allowed to apply for his release after serving 14 years behind bars.

Antoniou bought a Japanese knife and sword in November 1995 and, a month later, stabbed his stepfather to death as he sat in the passenger seat of his car in a layby on the A57 Sheffield to Manchester.

Afterwards, he used the sword to cut off Mr McCarthy's head, then left the headless corpse in the layby before driving to Bedfordshire with the disembodied head.

Once there, he went to a farm near Luton where he buried it and hid the vehicle. Antoniou had claimed McCarthy had abused him as a child.

Before the review of his case, Antoniou's lawyers argued his minimum term should be at 10 years, which would have enabled him to seek parole straightaway.

But Mr Justice Royce said he was "wholly unpersuaded" by that argument, and said Antoniou was lucky to get away with 14 years.

With the time he spent in custody before his sentencing counting towards his jail term, the ruling means Antoniou can apply for parole in January 2010.

But he will only be released if he can convince a parole board he is no longer a risk to the public. Even then he will remain on permanent life licence, subject to prison recall if he puts a foot wrong.

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Chart star Gabrielle has revealed her nightmare experience as she was questioned by police investigating a macabre headless body murder.

The stunning soul singer, who has shot straight to No. 2 with If You Ever, recorded with East 17, was freed after a five-hour interrogation. But now she dreads being a prosecution witness against ex-lover Tony Antoniou, father of her 17-month-old baby Jordan.

Gabrielle, 26, said: "It will bring everything to the surface again. Knowing it's coming up one day is always at the back of my mind."

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Antoniou has been accused of the murder of 59-year-old Walter McCarthy, who was found with his head hacked off at Cut Throat Bridge high in the Pennines four days before Christmas. Gabrielle said: "I got the shock of my life when the police turned up at my house. It took me about 15 minutes to even register properly what they were saying.

"In the police station my adrenalin was pumping like it's never pumped before. They kept asking me whether I'd given Tony money to escape but I barely knew what was going on.

"I was questioned for five hours and all I can say is, thank God they didn't keep me there overnight.

"I can't take confined spaces. The whole thing freaked me out so much I wanted to commit suicide. People read I was arrested in connection with a gruesome murder, and they imagined I might be an accomplice.

"Children's TV didn't want me to go on and I've got a little boy of my own. How do you think that made me feel? I cried until I had no more tears. When I was hauled into that police station I cursed the day I'd ever met Tony, whether he's guilty or innocent.

"After all, my child's father is associated with a gruesome, horrible murder and that's a dreadful feeling.

"Just to know that somebody you made love to and trusted completely is suspected of something so shocking, has been very difficult for me to cope with.

"The whole thing mucked up my brain. I didn't sleep for weeks. I hung on to my sanity by a very thin thread."

Gabrielle was shocked when police told her Tony had a new girlfriend who is expecting his child.

She said: "The day I gave birth was the last time I ever saw Tony.

"We'd been together for three years and I loved him with all my heart. He was my ideal man. He was kind, considerate and spoiled me rotten. He was incredibly romantic, bought me little surprise presents and took me on lovely holidays.

"But towards the end of my pregnancy we started growing apart. He'd say he was coming to see me and just not appear, then leave me waiting for weeks for him to call.

"Now I'm thankful my son doesn't know his father.

"Tony never made an effort to come and see Jordan when he was a free man, so why should I drag the baby to a filthy prison to see his father on remand? No way!"

Gabrielle's chart success helps to keep her mind off her ordeal.

She said: "It's something I have to conquer and I'm winning because I think I've gone through the worst."

Copyright 1996 MGN LTD

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.

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How many years did co-defendant Timothy Redhead get?

Is he out?

He’s from Woodhouse.

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Gabrielle was told she couldn't sing, yet her first single went to number one. It was dismissed as a one-off, yet the hits kept coming. But then her boyfriend killed his father...

Given the list of calamities both personal and professional which have befallen Gabrielle during her career, it's tempting to depict the UK singer as some modern-day successor to such troubled divas of the jazz era as Dinah Washington or Billie Holiday. Women whose haunting voices were matched by equally haunted lives, full of bad men and the bad luck they bring. However, forcing the real-life Gabrielle into that role proves somewhat difficult. The part of the doomed diva isn't one she slips into naturally. Delayed in arriving for our interview, a flustered Gabrielle finally appears sporting her new 'big hair' and an outfit of black leather jacket and smart trousers.

Before taking her place on the sofa of a sumptuous suite at London's Langham hotel, the singer disappears into the bathroom, wearing her ever-present dark glasses. She re-emerges five minutes later greatly amused. Laughing, Gabrielle says she couldn't at first understand why the gel she'd chosen to wash her hands with wasn't working properly. Then she'd realised she was using mouthwash.

Rummaging in her handbag for something to counteract the effect on her hands, she produces a bottle of moisturiser - a souvenir from a previous hotel visit. Gabrielle then offers a rundown of other London hotels and the free toiletries they offer. 'Just write, 'She's a kleptomaniac',' offers her press officer dryly.

Six years since first emerging from nowhere with the number one pop-soul anthem 'Dreams', Gabrielle maintains a relationship with stardom which can best be described as functional. When she has music to promote, she does everything that is asked of her by her record company, but then she happily retreats back to her life and family in south London.

Gabrielle grew up as Louise Bobb in Brockley, south London, the oldest of four children. From birth, she had a droopy left eyelid. In years to come, this would provide the singer with a visual trademark, when an eye-patch was used to cover it. However, as a child, her problem eye meant that she was forced to wear unflattering glasses, which left her wide open to the cruelty of other children.

By adolescence, she had size eight feet, and what she perceived to be a huge backside. By the age of 20, Gabrielle had gained enough confidence to start singing regularly at a Soho club called Moonlighting, but her early insecurities persisted. Only now they were joined by the fear that she would be exposed as a fraud because she couldn't sing with the technique of singers such as Mica Paris or Anita Baker.

Gabrielle's eventual pop stardom didn't lessen these feelings, but merely upped the ante. She was 24 when she first hit the charts. Now the worry was that, as a successful pop singer, she would be accused of trying to be in some way superior or pretentious, when all she had ever wanted to be was normal. Gabrielle first wrote the words for her breakthrough hit 'Dreams' when walking home one night upset at having just been told that singing Luther Vandross covers at Moonlighting was all she would ever be good for.

'Although I was trying to be creative and make it a love song, I was actually making reference to me wanting to sing,' she says. Then, in 1991, an aspiring record producer came to Moonlighting with a backing track he had created from sampling Tracy Chapman's 'Fast Car'. Gabrielle agreed to write a song to put over it, and dug out the lyrics for 'Dreams'. Once recorded, the track was released by its producer, who sold 15,000 copies without paying the singer (Gabrielle would eventually win a court case over the song's ownership).

It did, however, bring her to the attention of her current record label, Go Beat, who released a new version of 'Dreams' with which Gabrielle achieved the ultimate dream of going to number one with her first record. By the end of 1995, Gabrielle had a Brit Award as Best Newcomer and was busy recording a second album. Then everything changed.

As Gabrielle recalls: 'There I was, Miss Thang who never had the confidence, and never thought she could make it. But then Miss Thang has to go and have major controversy on top.'

On 23 December 1995, the evening news ran an item about a murder inquiry following the discovery of the headless body of 57-year-old Walter McCarthy. The victim had been savagely murdered and dumped at a lay-by off the A57 in Derbyshire. Wanted for questioning about the incident was McCarthy's missing 29-year-old stepson, Tony Antoniou.

Antoniou was Gabrielle's ex-boyfriend, and the father of her nine-month-old child. Gabrielle had first met Antoniou in 1992, when her career was taking off. They met through the music business, but the friendship developed and by July 1994, the singer was pregnant with Antoniou's child. But the relationship quickly deteriorated, and when a baby boy named Jordan was born on 16 April the following year, the father was absent. Antoniou turned up the day after the birth, staying long enough to chastise Gabrielle for eating chocolate, before disappearing for the next nine months.

At that time, Gabrielle had no reason to believe that Antoniou, for all his faults, was a murderer. As she says now: 'He was very cultured. He was a good person, when I knew him. Obviously, people change.'

At the beginning of 1996, the police visited Gabrielle, asking questions about Antoniou. She contacted him to let him know. Antoniou then asked to see his son and subsequently travelled down from Sheffield, staying at her flat. It would later emerge that he used this visit to dispose of the Nissan car in which the murder had taken place. This visit led to Gabriel being arrested and taken in for questioning at Lewisham Police Station.

Although she was cleared of any involvement, the press were alerted to Gabrielle's link to the case. 'When it first came out, there was no association with me,' she remembers. 'But once the press got wind of it and there was the major thing of me being questioned, my whole world just came in on me.'

However, things were going to get much worse. It soon became clear that her ex-boyfriend was indeed the killer. And if that wasn't bad enough, Gabrielle was to be called as a witness at his trial. At Nottingham Crown Court in March 1997, the trial revealed a gruesome murder. Claiming that McCarthy had sexually abused him as a child, Antoniou admitted stabbing his stepfather a total of 52 times in the front seat of his Nissan car. The car was then driven to a spot in Derbyshire called Cutthroat Bridge, where McCarthy was beheaded after 30 to 50 blows with a 2ft-long ceremonial sword.

Antoniou claimed that McCarthy had told him as child that a severed head lives on for 20 minutes as its oxygen supply dies, so Antoniou and an accomplice then taunted and insulted the dead man's head for 20 minutes. They later buried it in a Bedfordshire wood. The headlines wrote themselves, and for a woman who turned down party invitations for fear of presenting a negative image, the trial and its coverage were a living nightmare.

'I felt really hurt,' she admits. 'Because I never led that party-animal or pop-star life, it was almost like they couldn't wait for me to fall. They made me seem like such a little girl. I felt so small. That whole time was so devastating.'

On the stand, Gabrielle was asked about her relationship with Antoniou, and after her testimony, she broke down. The following day's press reports cast her in the role of a weeping woman standing by her man. Something she is still angry about.

'It was made out that I went on the stand and said he didn't do it. I mean, the man confessed. But it was almost like I'd been (adopts whining voice) 'He couldn't possibly have done it',' she says. By the time the trial ended, with Antoniou being found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, Gabrielle had left the country.

Returning a month later, she started rebuilding her life. Just as she wrote 'Dreams' to pick herself up and then later wrote her classic 'Give Me Just A Little More Time' because people were calling her a one-hit wonder, Gabrielle once again used her songwriting to exorcise her feelings. Ultimately, the songs on her new album Rise mostly fall into the two themes Gabrielle songs always follow: songs of optimism hoping for a better tomorrow and songs of defiance about picking up the pieces when that better tomorrow fails to materialise.

Even before the troubles of the past few years, the middle ground of actually being happy never seemed present. 'Hopefully, that will be the next album,' smiles Gabrielle.

Watching her a week earlier performing her new single 'Sunshine' in an east London TV studio for the programme Videotech, there's a reminder of why Gabrielle remains so popular. Technically, she's limited, but she has a gift shared by most truly great pop singers: when she gets up and sings, it sounds like the truth. It's this quality, no doubt, which appealed to Bob Dylan, whose 'Knocking On Heaven's Door' is sampled on the song 'Rise'.

When permission was sought to use the sample, Dylan wrote back to say how much he liked the song and waived the portion of the publishing money he was entitled to. Given the fact that most people don't realise that she writes her own songs, Gabrielle was chuffed with Dylan's unsolicited endorsement. 'If he was here now, I'd get down and kiss his toes,' she says.

Away from her career, Gabrielle devotes herself to her five-year-old son Jordan. Motherhood has been a positive experience for her. 'It's the best thing that could have happened because it's so grounded me. When I'm with my son, I'm so feisty and fierce.' By her own admission, the singer's love life even before Tony Antoniou had been pretty dismal, but just like her songs, she remains optimistic that one day things will go her way.

'There'll be an opportunity again. Maybe I will come to that part of my life when it's all going to go great. I've got that optimism that I'll be brave enough to go back into another situation because I've healed. Maybe it will work, and maybe it won't.' And that is the essence of Gabrielle. A woman who could have asked for better at various times in her life, but has nonetheless always dealt with whatever has come her way.

Underneath the insecurities and self-deprecation, a strong and proud woman. At one point, Gabrielle unintentionally offers her own summation. 'Well, I write pop songs, but I always like to think Gabrielle's got soul,' she says. Who could put it better?

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