The man who stabbed his on-off girlfriend and her sister to death in a "brutal and depraved" attack in Birmingham was jailed for life today.

Mohammed Ali, 29, used three knives to kill Yasmine and Sabrina Larbi-Cherif, whose partially-clothed bodies were found at their blood-drenched flat in Ryland Street, off Broad Street, last September.

He was told he would spend a minimum of 34 years in jail when he was sentenced at the Royal Courts of Justice in London today.

Ali, of Old Snow Hill, Birmingham, was not in court but the mother and three brothers of the murdered sisters sat in the public gallery as the judge passed sentence.

Mr Justice Hamblen condemned the horrific murders and the repeated lies Ali told in an attempt to escape justice.

"You barbarically and brutally butchered these two girls, turning their flat into a cauldron of blood," he said. The judge rejected Ali's claim that he was provoked into the killings during a loss of self-control.

He said: "This wasn't a case of provocation. It was a case of anger and retribution in the case of Yasmine and of cover-up in the case of Sabrina."

Mr Justice Hamblen said Ali had killed two "educated, outgoing girls in the morning of their lives" without showing any remorse.

"You do not know the meaning of the word respect," he said. "Not one word of apology has been offered to Yasmine and Sabrina's grieving parents and family. To them you have caused quite unimaginable grief."

Yasmine, 22, and Sabrina, 19, moved to the UK from Algeria with their parents and three brothers in 1998. The older sister met Ali in 2006 and became pregnant by him twice, resulting in two terminations.

In February last year Yasmine accused Ali of rape, and he spent five months on remand in prison. But the charges were dropped when she decided she could not face giving evidence in court.

Yasmine and Ali got back together after he was freed but their relationship remained turbulent and it was breaking down before the killings.

On September 14 last year Ali stabbed Yasmine twice and inflicted 35 separate knife wounds on her sister before dragging their bodies into a bedroom, his trial at Birmingham Crown Court heard.

Ali twice walked to the kitchen to rearm himself after breaking two of the knives.

One of the wounds Yasmine suffered was so deep that the knife almost passed right through her body.

Ali was captured on CCTV leaving the sisters' flat at the Jupiter Apartments, on Ryland Street, with a plastic bag thought to contain his bloodstained clothes.

He was arrested two days later at a ferry terminal in Dover, Kent, attempting to flee the country for France. A jury took just three hours and 20 minutes to convict Ali of both murders.

Ali claimed to be from Iraq but told friends he was Moroccan. His defence barrister, Michael Bromley-Martin QC, told the court today he had led a difficult life before coming to Britain in 1999.

He said: "We submit that on any view, by September of 2008, Mohammed Ali must have been a very troubled, if not damaged, man."

Detective Chief Superintendent David Mirfield, of West Midlands Police, said he was pleased with the sentence.

He went on: "Yasmine and Sabrina were young, beautiful and clever girls who had their whole lives ahead of them. They were brutally murdered in their own home by someone that they had trusted.

"No prison sentence will bring back the beautiful daughters and sisters that the Larbi-Cherif family lost on that terrible day in September.

"Yasmine and Sabrina's family have had to endure listening to horrific detail surrounding their murders. At no point has Ali shown any remorse or sorrow.

"Today's sentence brings to a close the months of investigation and hard work to ensure that Ali was brought to justice."