The partner of ex-Eastenders actress Sian Blake has been given a whole-life sentence for murdering her and their two young sons.
Arthur Simpson-Kent, 49, killed Ms Blake, 43, and their sons, Zachary, eight, and four-year-old Amon, after she said she was going to leave him.
His disappearance and the subsequent discovery of the bodies in the garden of their home in Erith, south east London, sparked a manhunt which ended with Simpson-Kent being detained in Ghana.
Ms Blake, who played Frankie Pierre in the BBC soap between 1996 and 1997, suffered from motor neurone disease and was terminally ill.
Her condition meant she would have been incapable of defending herself from a violent attack.
Ms Blake was hit on the head before being stabbed in the neck or throat by Simpson-Kent, who went on to kill their children in the same way.
He then painted over bloodstains in their bungalow before fleeing to the country of his birth.
Mr Justice Singh, sentencing at the Old Bailey, said he had been left “in no doubt” Simpson-Kent should spend the rest of his life behind bars.
To tears in the public gallery, he said: “In my judgement this was indeed a case where each murder involved a substantial degree of premeditation or planning.”
The judge said there were “serious aggravating features” as each of the victims was vulnerable “because of age or disability”.
He continued: “There was an abuse of position of trust. There was concealment of the bodies.
“He made efforts to remove evidence of his crimes at the house, including repainting.”
Simpson-Kent remained impassive throughout the hearing.
The court heard how he told psychiatrist Philip Joseph following the murders that “something just snapped in me”.
He said: “I grabbed hold of a small axe that was kept on a ledge in the kitchen. Sian’s head was bent low down and she was bent over looking at the floor.
“I approached her from the side and hit her at the back of the head as hard as I could and she fell unconscious at the first blow.
“My mind was blank and I was focusing on doing and not thinking. It was like I was there but not there.”
Simpson-Kent said he was depressed and had planned to kill himself following the murders, but could not go through with it.
However, the judge rejected his claim.
In the days following Ms Blake’s death in December last year, her family received messages sent from her mobile saying she had gone away.
Simpson-Kent flew to Ghana, where he was seen “partying” on New Year’s Eve. He was held by local police a few days later.
In a statement read outside the court, Ms Blake’s family described him as a “monster” who “robbed us of our dreams and aspirations, everything we wished for Sian and our precious boys”.