An Irishman who stabbed a woman to death in her own home has been jailed in England for 23 years for murder and burglary.

Michael Purcell, 53, with an address at Ashford Court, NW2, London, was sentenced at the Old Bailey today for the murder of 49-year-old Imelda Molina. He is originally from Tipperary but has been living in the United Kingdom for some years.

He was sentenced to life in prison for the murder with a minimum of 23 years.

He will also serve a concurrent sentence of 42 months for the burglary.

Purcell was convicted after an 11-day trial at the same court.

The court heard how on 29 October 2015 Ms Molina’s partner had phoned her at around 6pm to say she was on her way home from work.

But when she entered the flat they shared in Ashford Court, NW2, at about 7.15pm she noticed that their bedroom door had been forced. 

When she came into the bedroom she discovered Ms Molina’s body.

Ms Molina had been subjected to a sustained and vicious assault and her partner ran from the flat to summon help.

Police and London Ambulance Service attended, but Ms Molina was pronounced dead at the scene.

The investigating officers went to a bedroom that was used by Purcell, who had been the victim's tenant for over four years.

In the bedroom they found Purcell on his bed and covered in blood. He had a large cut to the left side of his neck and also had cuts to his wrists.

As police officers and LAS staff started trying to save his life, Purcell said: "I killed the woman next door, just let me die."

He told officers he had used a Stanley knife to inflict his own injuries.

One of the attending officers recorded Purcell's admission in his notebook as a dying declaration.

Purcell was arrested on suspicion of murder before being taken to hospital.

While at the hospital an officer recorded that he said: "I don't know what came over me yesterday because she was a lovely lady."

A search of Purcell's room found it chaotic and littered with empty alcohol bottles.

In his bedroom wardrobe a handbag belonging to Ms Molina’s partner was found containing approximately £1,000 in cash.

A post-mortem examination found Ms Molina had suffered 48 separate stab wounds.

When Purcell had recovered from his injuries he was taken to a police station, but gave no explanation of what had happened.

He was subsequently charged with Ms Molina’s murder.

Detective Inspector Jamie Stevenson of the Met's Homicide and Major Crime Command said: "We believe that the motive for the murder was financial. Inquires revealed Purcell had problems with alcohol and owed a large amount of money, but even he may not really understand why he carried out such a vicious and sustained assault.

"However, what we can all understand is how Purcell's attack resulted in Imelda's life being stolen away from those who loved her. Purcell will now face the consequences of his actions; he is a dangerous man who carried out a ferocious attack and he has rightly been brought to account."