A former British Army soldier who hacked his wife to death in the street with a kukri knife has been told he must serve at least 18-and-a-half years in prison by a judge who said it was an attack of "unrelenting brutality".
Craig Woodhall's attack on Victoria Woodhall outside their home in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was witnessed by horrified neighbours and two children, Sheffield Crown Court was told on Friday.
The judge heard that the defendant told neighbours who tried in vain to help Mrs Woodhall: "She deserved it," and that she had been winding him up all day.
The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC, said Woodhall struck his wife with multiple blows from a kukri, stepping away at times and coming back to inflict more terrible injuries before driving off.
A kukri is a slightly curved knife traditional to Nepal and often associated with the Gurkhas.
Judge Richardson said the whole incident was caught on CCTV but the "chilling" footage was too disturbing to be shown in court.
He told the defendant he "brutally and relentlessly stabbed her with the kukri", saying she was lying on the ground "defenceless against the ferocity of your attack".
The judge said the "unrelenting brutality" of the attack was one of the aggravating factors in the case, along with the fact that it was witnessed by children.
He said: "Your conduct may only be characterised as merciless, determined, sustained and savage in the extreme.
"The blows were visited with brute force, bringing the knife down repeatedly from a height on to the body of the deceased. Your wife died rapidly from the acute blood loss.
"It was an unrelenting avalanche of exceptionally serious violence visited upon a defenceless woman."
He added: "You plainly intended to kill your wife. Not a shred of mercy was exhibited at the scene. You left her for dead in the street."
The court heard that Mrs Woodhall, 31, had recently left the family home in Windsor Crescent, Barnsley, to live with another man just as the coronavirus lockdown began.
The judge said she probably left because "she had had enough of your controlling and possessive behaviour".
He heard that the couple married in 2013 but the relationship deteriorated.
On the day of her death, 29 March, Mrs Woodhall returned to the couple's home, but the defendant refused to let her in, and he tried to report her to the police for breaking the lockdown rules.
She then began using Facebook videos to tell this to her friends.
The judge said that when Mrs Woodhall began to film her husband through the window, he "reacted with acute violence".
The court heard that Mrs Woodhall suffered terrible injuries to her face, neck and head and could not be saved despite the intervention of neighbours.
Woodhall later gave himself up to police.
The court heard that the defendant had left the Army in 2013 and was training to be a prison officer.
Mrs Woodhall was described in court as a "beautiful and talented daughter" who worked as an operation theatre technician at Rotherham General Hospital.
Her father, Paul Mason, told the court his daughter was training to work on COVID wards at the time of her death.
Woodhall, 41, pleaded guilty to murder at a previous hearing. He was jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years and six months.
Cover image: Former soldier Craig Woodhall (Picture: South Yorkshire Police).