British man, 36, admits murdering his Canadian ex-girlfriend with a hammer and gunshot but denies killing her 22-month-old daughter two years after their bodies were found in a shallow grave
- Robert Leeming, 36, admitted killing his Canadian ex-girlfriend Jasime Lovett
- But he denied killing her 22-year-old daughter Alyiah Sanderson in April 2019
- Leeming was questioned after they disappeared but told police he was innocent
- The pair’s bodies were found in a shallow grave in near Calgary on May 6, 2019
A British man, 36, has admitted murdering his Canadian ex-girlfriend with a hammer and gunshot but denied killing her 22-month-old daughter.
Robert Leeming’s guilty plea comes two years after the bodies of Jasmine Lovett, 25, and her daughter Aliyah Sanderson were found in a shallow grave in Kananaskis, near where he lived in Calgary.
He pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of Lovett and not guilty to the second-degree murder of Aliyah at the beginning of the trial last month.
HGV mechanic Leeming, of Wiltshire, UK, told the court he flew into a rage with his lodger and former lover Lovett and attacked her with a hammer before shooting her in the head when she accused him of injuring her daughter.
He denied killing Aliyah, describing her as a ‘great kid’, and claimed she died from injuries sustained when she fell down stairs.
After the pair disappeared in April, Leeming claimed he ‘did nothing wrong’ and tat he was on a date with another woman when Lovett and Sanderson went missing.
But he later led two undercover police officers, who had befriended him offering to help remove the bodies, to the grave in Grizzly Creek, leading to his arrest.
Robert Leeming, 36, has admitted murdering his Canadian ex-girlfriend with a hammer and gunshot but denied killing her 22-month-old daughter
Leeming’s guilty plea comes two years after the bodies of Jasmine Lovett, 25, (pictured) and her daughter Aliyah Sanderson were found in a shallow grave in Kananaskis, near Calgary
Leeming was the only witness to testify for the defence.
The court heard the 36-year-old ‘just snapped’ at Lovett and bludgeoned her with a hammer before shooting her in the head with a 0.22 calibre rifle as she lay bleeding heavily on the floor.
He said he was ‘happy’ to look after Aliyah during his on-and-off relationship with her mother and that he and Lovett were ‘friends’.
The court heard Lovett had skull fractures and had been shot in the head while Aliyah died of blunt force trauma to the head.
On the first day of his trial at the Court of Queen’s Justice last month, Leeming’s defense lawyer Balfour Der said there was no evidence the 36-year-old had killed Aliyah.
Der added a medical examiner had testified it was possible she died from injuries sustained in a fall.
He said: ‘The absence of evidence will support reasonable doubt. The verdict should be not guilty but, I say, as an alternative, there may be a finding of manslaughter.’
Prosecutor Doug Taylor pushed back on Der’s statement, arguing Leeming had never told police the child’s death was an accident.
‘No one would pass up that opportunity unless it was not an accident,’ he said.
Taylor also told the court Leeming’s story of a fall did not fit with forensic evidence and ‘defies logic’ and pointed out that he had lied repeatedly.
‘He told lie after lie after he murdered Jasmine and, so says the Crown, Aliyah. He lied to the police. He lied to the public. He lied to his ex-wife. He lied to his employer.
‘All of this was a calculated scheme to get away with murder – and not just one, but two.’
Taylor also told the court it ‘does not have to be able to find with certainty the exact mechanisms of how it is that the accused would have committed the murder against Aliyah Sanderson, just so long as he is found to be legally responsible for it’.
Leeming told police he flew into a rage and attacked Lovett when she questioned him about whether he had caused injuries to Aliyah (pictured) who fell down the stairs while he was looking after her
Aliyah’s grandmother Jodi Sanderson attended court and told reporters it was ‘hard to watch’ and that she was eager for the case to come to an end.
‘You know what happened, but to hear it explained in detail was pretty traumatic. I’m glad we’re finally coming to a close and it’ll be all over soon,’ she said, adding that she wanted to see Leeming convicted.
‘That would be the biggest relief. He’s already admitted to Jasmine. That’s another thing that really rocks me to the core. To not admit to Aliyah, at least… some wrongdoing, is very hard to listen to.’
Speaking outside court during the trial last month, Lovett’s mother Kim Blankert said: ‘It’s kind of like getting hit by a truck every day that we come in here, but we still come and stand up for Jasmine and Aliyah.
‘It doesn’t matter to me what happens to Robert Leeming because it doesn’t change anything, it doesn’t bring the girls back. Obviously, we want justice, but it doesn’t matter in the long run, as far as the healing goes.
‘The healing comes from after this is all over, and we can just move forward and away from all of the violence.’
Lovett and Aliyah were reported missing on April 16 after they failed to show up for a family dinner. Leeming was initially arrested in connection with the disappearance but later released.
He was re-arrested after police found the bodies – doused in gasoline, wrapped in blue blankets, and covered in dirt and branches – in a shallow grave in Kananaskis, 70 miles west of the home where Lovett and Leeming lived.
In a statement at the time, police said: ‘At approximately 4am on Monday, May 6, 2019, we located the bodies of a woman and child, believed to be that of Jasmine Lovett and Aliyah Sanderson, in Kananaskis.
‘The investigation led officers to a heavily wooded area near Grizzly Creek located off Highway 40, where the bodies were discovered.
‘A suspect has been taken into custody and charges are pending.’
Police had been searching for the bodies in the Bragg Creek area which is located 40 miles closer to where Leeming said he last saw the pair at his house.
But after making a breakthrough they moved their search near Grizzly Creek where the pair were found on May 6, 2019.
Leeming led two undercover police officers to the shalow grave in Grizzly Creek (pictured) after they told him they had retrieved a bag of evidence from a nosy neighbour
Leeming led two undercover police officers to the site after they told him they had retrieved a bag of evidence from a nosy neighbour and offered to help with his troubles by removing the bodies, the Global Times reported.
The officers were led to the site on foot by Leeming, who knew exactly where to take them, according to their testimony.
‘I said, “OK, where to?” And [Leeming] goes, “You’re looking at it.” And he points down. And underneath and against my left foot were branches and a pile,
‘[Leeming] goes and he grabs a branch and lifts it up as if to prove what’s underneath all these branches. As he does that, I see a small bit of blue that I believe to be the moving blankets.’
The find came days after Leeming boasted to reporters outside a bar while a forensics team searched his house: ‘They will find nothing because I did nothing wrong.’
The undercover officers also told the court Leeming had gloated about hiding raw bacon around his house and filling his car with mulch in an effort to throw police off his trail.
In a recording played during his trial, Leeming could be heard telling cops he filled the trunk of his car with mulch because ‘it smells like death’.
Asked if he had cleaned up the car properly after transporting the bodies, he said ‘oh, yeah’.
Leeming was also heard telling undercover officers he was pleased his car – a 2014 Mercedes – was an older model so police would not be able to use a computer in the vehicle to work out where he had been.
Lovett and Sanderson were lodging with Leeming before their deaths. He had been in an intimate relationship with Lovett, who had lived with him for the previous seven months.
Leeming, who was born on a British Army base in Germany and later lived in Wiltshire, told police he went for a picnic with the pair on April 17.
He said he then went out on a date with a woman who he had been seeing for a few months. Lovett’s bank card was used for an online purchase the following day.
The court will set a date for Leeming’s sentencing on December 3.
Lovett and Sanderson (pictured) were lodging with Leeming before their deaths. He had been in an intimate relationship with Lovett, who had lived with him for the previous seven months
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