Jane Andrews was an average girl from a working-class family, a girl who dreamed of more than her hometown of Grimsby in Lincolnshire could offer. She worked hard to achieve qualifications in fashion and pushed for opportunities to transport her into a middle-class existence. The direction her life took, however, was one not even she could imagine.
After achieving the position of dresser for the Duchess of York, mixing with royalty and aristocrats from around the world, she descended rapidly into self-destruction, ending in the brutal murder of her boyfriend and a life sentence behind bars. Jane Andrews has indeed achieved fame, but it is fame for being a murderess who fell from grace.
Grimsby sits on the south bank of the Humber Estuary in Lincolnshire in the east of England once being home to the largest fishing fleet in the world. Today, it is a busy popular town with a rich history and, while an attractive spot for tourists, it does not provide a great deal of opportunity for youngsters looking to make their mark on the world.
Jane Andrews graduated from the Grimsby College of Art completing her course in fashion and set about looking for opportunities to leave the town for the bright lights and plush lifestyle a city job working for the wealthy could offer. ‘The Lady’ is a London based women’s magazine where jobs were advertised particularly for domestic service often for wealthy established families seeking domestic help. It was here that Jane Andrews replied to an anonymous advertisement for a fashion dresser that turned out to be a role working for Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York.
At age 21 she moved to London, flourishing in her role supporting the Duchess. Although the job didn’t pay a great deal, it did put her in contact with wealthy powerful people enriching her social life with the kind of parties and social elite she had always aspired to.
At 23-years-old in 1990, she married an older IBM executive, Christopher Dunn-Butler, divorcing after just five years. What followed was a series of short-lived relationships with notable episodes of anger and rage from Andrews when they ended, destroying the home and belongings of one man after a bitter breakup. In 1997, she was made redundant from her job with the Duchess of York, a role she had held for nine years becoming a close support and confidant to the Duchess during that time.
Thomas Cressman was a former stockbroker and current successful businessman running his own company specializing in car accessories. He was 39-years-old, wealthy and well-respected in the social circles of the London elite. Jane Andrews was in financial trouble after the loss of her job and desperate to secure a position whether personally or professionally which would keep her in the lifestyle she had become so attached to. Thomas Cressman provided her with that opportunity.
While there is no doubt Jane Andrews had genuine feelings for Cressman, the allure of his money, the security he offered and his social status were extremely attractive to her. She moved into his flat in Fulham in London early on in their relationship and began working firstly for Marks & Spencer designing children’s clothes and then for the prestige Claridge’s Hotel as a PR Manager in October 1999, a role that lasted only a few months before she was dismissed. As the months passed, Andrews became more and more financially reliant on her boyfriend.
The relationship between Jane Andrews and Tom Cressman was fraught with arguments, insecurities, and jealousy. Cressman was reportedly struggling with her mood swings and fierce possessiveness over him and Andrews with his interest in bondage sex and his roving eye. Just 24 hours before he was murdered, Cressman had called 999 asking for police assistance at their flat “before one of them got hurt.” Police didn’t attend his home that evening, telling him instead to stay calm and de-escalate the situation.
Key to its breakdown and the ultimate reason for Cressman’s murder, the prosecution claimed, was that Tom Cressman did not have plans to marry Jane Andrews and it was this, they said, that led Andrews to attack her boyfriend in a violent rage. The discovery that Cressman did not intend to make a long-term commitment and secure her the future she craved with no other options on the table to achieve the same heights, tipped her over the edge.
The details of Tom Cressman’s murder on 17 September 2000 are gruesome, cold-blooded and callous. Mr. Cressman was hit in the head with a cricket bat and stabbed in the chest with an 8-inch kitchen knife inside the home he shared with Andrews. The injuries the knife caused led pathologists to believe Mr. Cressman was stabbed with force for the knife to have entered through his ribcage and into his lung, piercing the lining of his heart. There was evidence the knife had been partially removed and inserted again causing even more damage. Tom Cressman would not have died instantly from his injuries, Dr. Ian West testified at Andrews murder trial. He managed to remove the knife from his own body and most likely survived for several minutes before collapsing.
Jane Andrews is said to have showered to clean herself of Tom Cressman’s blood while he lay dying before leaving the flat and disappearing for four days. During that period Andrew’s sent a number of texts claiming not to know anything about what had happened to Tom Cressman, where he was or why the media were focusing on her, attempts according to police, to cover up her crime. She was found slumped in the backseat of her car in a lay-by next to the A38 motorway in Cornwall after taking an overdose in an attempt to end her life.
Arrested for murder, Jane Andrews gave numerous and varied accounts of what happened, building her own defense. She took the stand in her defense when her case came to trial at London’s Old Bailey in May 2001, however, her claims that Tom Cressman was violent towards her and had forced her into rough sex could not be corroborated. Furthermore, her story changed repeatedly, with inconsistent statements and little evidence to support her claims. They were, according to the prosecution, more lies to try and find a defense against her brutal and clear actions of murder against an innocent man. The jury found her guilty of murder with the judge handing her a life sentence in prison.
“After you had struck him first with a cricket bat and then stabbed him with a knife you left him to die without remorse.”
In an interview with the Guardian two years after the murder, she said she was an abused, battered and emotionally broken woman who had feared for her own safety after being sexually assaulted and raped by her boyfriend. His murder, she claimed, was self-defense and entirely accidental.
Since her conviction, Jane Andrews has been diagnosed with a Borderline Personality Disorder. It is a disorder which can go some way to explain some of her behaviour and struggles in the months before she committed murder and may give some explanation for her brutal actions. It cannot, however, take away what she did on that night and the fact she took the life of another in a violent attack before trying to cover up her crime.
Jane Andrews was released from New Hall jail in Wakefield, West Yorkshire in June 2015 after serving 14 years. Many, including Tom Cressman’s family, feel a life sentence should mean life and are less than happy that Andrews is now a free woman. Detective Superintendent Jim Dickie who headed the murder investigation said of her release, “I think Andrews is going to be a threat to any man she befriends and who rejects the idea of having a relationship with her. Any male she befriends must tread very carefully.”