Category Archives: Murder
The High Court rules today on whether anonymity should continue to be given to a killer who committed “exceptionally horrific crimes”.
The gagging order was made in response to fears that the killer’s own life would be in danger if his identity received further publicity.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and various media organisations joined together to argue last month that the order was legally flawed and wrongly prevented the public from knowing the full facts of the case.
“The full facts are exceptionally horrific by even the standard of murders,” their counsel Guy Vassall-Adams said.
The order restricted the media to saying they were “three sadistic murders – but that doesn’t even give you the half of it”.
Even “the nature of the victims” could not be publicised, said Mr Vassall-Adams at London’s High Court.
The order was made during the course of a legal challenge by the man, referred to as M, who has spent decades in prison, against a Parole Board decision refusing him a transfer to open conditions.
It was was granted by Mr Justice Simon, who dismissed M’s parole challenge earlier this year.
He rejected submissions from the Press Association that allowing anonymity set a precedent for other high-profile prisoners to seek similar orders.
Because of the widespread implications, the issue returned to court in April for a full hearing before Lord Justice Pitchford.
Mr Vassall-Adams told the judges M’s lawyers were arguing the case was about “whether the media should be allowed to imperil (M’s) life or scupper his chances of rehabilitation”.
He said those arguments really applied to a different type of case in which individuals – like Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, who killed James Bulger – were provided with a new identity and there were injunctions against the media aimed at protecting them from being attacked while living in the community.
“The injunction protects confidential information, which is the new identities. It doesn’t prevent the media reporting what is already public,” said Mr Vassall-Adams.
M had already been in prison over 30 years serving multiple life sentences and there was no imminent prospect of him being released – “furthermore his identity has not only been public but received massive previous publicity”.
Anyone interested in finding out about his crimes could do so by a click of a button on the internet, Mr Vassall-Adams said.
Not allowing the nature of his victims to be identified “masked” what the case was about, which was the Parole Board’s refusal to recommend that he was fit for open conditions.
“Understanding the nature of the victims and the terrible treatment meted out to them gives a completely different complexion to this whole case”, Mr Vassall-Adams said.
A senior judge has said the current sentencing tariff system “works against” the interests of those who would like to see “really long” jail sentences imposed for murder– but critics say he should ‘button his judicial lip’.
Judge William Davis QC, a senior circuit judge at Birmingham Crown Court, made the comments at the Police Federation conference after the Home Secretary announced plans to enforce “whole life” sentences for cop killers.
Asked if he thought the proposal could work, Judge Davis, a member of the Sentencing Council, said: “Speaking purely personally here, not on behalf of Sentencing Council, the problem with the current tariff system for murder is its rigidity.
“It sometimes works against the interests of those who would like to see really long sentences.”
Judge Davis alluded to the case of American David Bieber, who murdered Pc Ian Broadhurst and attempted to murder Pcs Neil Roper and James Banks in 2003 in Leeds.
He said the judge wanted to give Bieber a whole life tariff but this was ultimately denied by the Court of Appeal and his term was set at a minimum of 37 years.
He said: “If there was a degree of judicial independence and discretion one could well imagine that a judge would say for doing what that man did, that’s his whole life.
“As a judge I would prefer a degree of flexibility, which currently there isn’t, particularly in relation to tariffs for murder.”
There have been 12 direct killings of police officers in the course of duty since 2000 – including the murder of Pcs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes by one-eyed Dale Cregan in Greater Manchester last year.
Another high profile case where a police officer died was that of Ian Dibell, an off-duty officer who was shot as he tried to stop a gunman.
Steve Williams, chair of the Police Federation, said: “The public need to have confidence that the criminal sentence they read about in the paper is the sentence the offender completes.
“There is no hierarchy when it comes to victims of murder, however police officers risk their lives on a daily basis confronting danger on behalf of others.
“Would-be offenders must know that they will receive the most severe penalty possible.
“In the names of Fiona Bone, Nicola Hughes and Ian Dibell – three police officers murdered in the last year alone – we support any move that means a true life sentence will be applied to anyone who murders a police officer.’”
David Hanson, shadow policing minister, said: “As the Shadow Home Secretary said last year, the killing of a police officer is a particularly heinous crime that should be punished with the severest possible sentences. We will support any efforts to achieve that aim.”
However, Mark Leech editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners said the calls for more judicial discretion in sentencing was a backward step.
Mr Leech said “Giving Judges more discretion about sentencing is a backward step, it would turn back the sentencing clock 20 years.
“Let’s not forget the reason why we have sentencing guidelines, and a Council to devise them of which Judge William Davis QC is a member, is because history showed that when judges had no guidelines sentences were a lottery, dependent on the prejudices and politics of the sentencing judge.
“If Judge Davis believes the current guidelines on murder are too rigid then as a member of the Sentencing Council he is better placed than many judges to argue for those guidelines to be changed – until he can do that he should either resign from the Council or, in public, button his judicial lip.”
The family of a murdered prison officer who was widely believed to have been killed by the IRA has held a meeting with Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams.
Brian Stack, who was Chief Prison Officer at Portlaoise Prison in the Irish Republic, was shot in Dublin in 1983. He died 18 months later.
The IRA never claimed responsibility for the murder, but his family believe he was targeted because of his job.
His son, Austin Stack, described the meeting as very productive and genuine.
Two of the murdered officer’s sons met Mr Adams at the Irish houses of parliament in Dublin on Thursday evening.
Speaking after the meeting, Austin Stack told the Irish state broadcaster RTE that no promises has been made, but that the Sinn Fein president had agreed to help them as best he could.
Mr Stack added that his family felt the offer was genuine and said they are due to meet Mr Adams again in about four weeks.
His father was shot in the back of the neck as he walked along Dublin’s South Circular Road shortly after leaving a boxing tournament.
He was the only prison officer to be assassinated in the Republic of Ireland during the Troubles.
The man who carried out the shooting escaped on a motorbike, driven by an accomplice.
The prison officer was left brain damaged and paralysed from the neck down by the shooting and died from his injuries.
Austin Stack, the eldest of his three children, was 14 at the time of the shooting and is now the assistant governor of Wheatfield Prison in west Dublin.
He said he believes the IRA carried out the attack because his father thwarted a number attempts by members of the paramilitary group to escape from Portlaoise Prison and to smuggle weapons into the high security jail.
Mr Stack has said he wants the IRA to admit responsibility for his father’s murder and his family want answers and closure from their discussions with the Sinn Fein president.
They have asked Mr Adams to speak to his contacts about the killing in the hope they can find out who carried it out and why.
“We’re not looking for any form of revenge. We would like to sit down with those people, talk to them and get some form of responsibility.”
Mr Adams, who stepped down as MP for West Belfast to become a member of the Irish parliament two years ago, has consistently denied that he was ever a member of the IRA.
Speaking after the meeting, the Sinn Fein president told RTE it had been a “good” and “comprehensive discussion”.
“There are many families who are looking for closure. It may be that I won’t be able to help but I certainly have the desire to be of assistance,” Mr Adams said.
He added: “We have each agreed to go off and reflect on what was said. And we have agreed to meet again.”
A killer convicted of murdering a paedophile in a top security jail in Cambridgeshire has failed to persuade a High Court judge to soften his prison regime.
Michael Cain complained that prison bosses had unfairly refused to downgrade his category A prisoner status.
But Mr Justice Stadlen has refused to declare his grading unfair, after a hearing at the High Court in London.
Cain – who is in his mid 40s – was given a life term in 1987 after being convicted of murdering a shopkeeper during a robbery.
In 1995, Cain was given a second life term after he and another inmate were convicted of murdering child killer Leslie Bailey – who was known as “Catweazle” – at Whitemoor prison near March, Cambridgeshire, in 1993.
His minimum prison term expired in 2010 but parole board officials have not recommended his release.
Mr Justice Stadlen was told that Cain had not accepted responsibility for Bailey’s murder until four years ago.
Cain told a psychologist that he had “held the belief for many years” that Bailey was not a “victim” because of the “nature” of his crimes.
He said he had acted as a “look out” while “his associate” John Brooks went into a cell to beat and strangle Bailey.
Mr Justice Stadlen said he recognised that his conclusion on the grading challenge would be “unwelcome” to Cain.
But the judge said Cain was to be “commended” for his “belated admission of responsibility” for Bailey’s murder and willingness to address his “offending behaviour”.
In recent years Cain has been held at Frankland jail near Durham and Full Sutton jail near York, the judge heard.
Three men are to be sentenced after being found guilty of murdering a convicted child rapist in Dorset.
Geoffrey Reed (above), 57, was hit with an object like a hammer and then stamped and kicked on in his ground floor flat in Bournemouth by half brothers Stuart and Lee Wareham and Benjamin Walter.
The trio will serve life sentences for the murder and will be told the minimum terms they will serve before they are eligible for parole.
Frail Reed, who allowed the men to stay or visit his flat, suffered “enormous injuries” with fractures to his head, ribs and sternum and a broken neck, the trial at Winchester Crown Court was told.
After the murder Stuart Wareham, 26, boasted in a letter from prison that “there’s one more paedo off the street so he can’t prey on anymore little kids”.
During the four-week trial the jury were told that Stuart Wareham had found some paperwork detailing that Reed had served 10 years for four counts of rape on two vulnerable victims – one of them a child – after the men had met in a bail hostel.
The prosecution said this was a motive in the murder and also that the men wanted Reed’s benefits but when he died he only had £2.56.
The men launched the fatal attack on June 7 last year and the trio put eight-stone Reed in a suitcase that the jury saw Stuart Wareham on CCTV carry one-handed out of the flat.
Stuart Wareham then asked his sister to drive him and Benjamin Walter, 22, to their grandmother’s house in Lytchett Matravers – 13 miles away – and said there was a dead dog in the suitcase he wanted to bury there, the court heard.
Meanwhile Lee Wareham, 33, left the house with several bags and dumped Reed’s clothes while the other men buried him in a shallow grave.
Another man Danny Anderson was living in the flat and he called police three days later fearing the men had killed Reed. Specialist dogs found him buried in woodland.
During the trial each man blamed each other for the killing.
Suspicion in the murders of a Texas district attorney, his wife, Colorado Prisons Chief and another prosecutor has shifted to a violent white supremacist prison gang.
It was the focus of a December law enforcement bulletin warning that its members might try to attack police or prosecutors.
The weekend deaths of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, who were found shot in their home, were especially worrying.
They happened just a couple of months after one of the county’s assistant district attorneys, Mark Hasse, was killed near his courthouse office.
And less than two weeks ago, Colorado’s prison chief was shot to death at his front door, apparently by a white supremacist ex-convict who died in a shoot-out with deputies after fleeing to Texas.
The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas has been in the state’s prison system since the 1980s, when it began as a white supremacist gang that protected its members and ran illegal activities, including drug distribution, according to Terry Pelz, a former Texas prison warden and expert on the gang.
The group, which has a long history of violence and retribution, is now believed to have more than 4,000 members in and out of prison who deal in a variety of criminal enterprises, including prostitution, robbery and murder.
It has a paramilitary structure with five factions around the state, Mr Pelz said.
Four leaders of the group were charged in October over crimes ranging from murder to drug trafficking.
Two months later, authorities issued the bulletin warning that the gang might try to retaliate against law enforcement for the investigation that also led to the arrest of 30 other members.
At the time, prosecutors called the charges “a devastating blow to the leadership” of the gang.
Mr Hasse’s death on January 31 came on the same day as the first guilty pleas were entered. No arrests have been made over his killing.
Mr McLelland was part of a multi-agency task force that investigated the Aryan Brotherhood with help from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and police in Houston and Fort Worth.
He and his wife Cynthia were found shot to death on Saturday in their rural home just outside the town of Forney, about 20 miles from Dallas.
Detectives have declined to say if the Aryan Brotherhood is the focus of their investigation, but the state Department of Public Safety bulletin warned that the group is “involved in issuing orders to inflict ‘mass casualties or death’ to law enforcement officials involved in the recent case”.
Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies throughout Texas were on high alert, and steps were being taken to protect DAs and their staffs.
In Kaufman County, deputies escorted some employees into the courthouse yesterday after the killings stirred fears that other public workers could be targeted.
Law enforcement officers were seen patrolling outside the courthouse, one holding a semi-automatic weapon, while others walked around inside.
Deputies were called to the McLelland home by relatives and friends who had been unable to reach the pair.
When they arrived, investigators found the couple had been shot multiple times, and cartridge casings were scattered near their bodies.
The killings also followed the murder of Colorado’s corrections director, Tom Clements, who was killed on March 19 when he answered the doorbell at his home outside Colorado Springs.
Two days later, Evan Ebel, a white supremacist and former Colorado inmate suspected of shooting Mr Clements, died in a shoot-out with Texas deputies about 100 miles from Kaufman.
In an interview shortly after the Colorado killing, Mr McLelland himself raised the possibility that Mr Hasse was gunned down by a white supremacist gang.
After that attack, Mr McLelland said, he carried a gun everywhere around town, even when walking his dog.
An “evil” killer was today sentenced to at least 40 years in prison for the cold-blooded murders of his mother and father – but went to jail protesting his innocence.
Conman Stephen Seddon, 46, was branded a “monster” by a judge after blasting his elderly and doting parents to death with a sawn-off shotgun to get his hands on their money.
But Seddon, who told “lie after lie after lie” to escape justice, shook his head and shouted “I’m an innocent man” before he was ordered to “keep quiet” by the judge, who jailed him for life with a minimum 40 years before parole.
Seddon, a convicted fraudster with an “insatiable thirst” for money, was named by his parents Robert Seddon, 68, and Patricia, 65, as sole beneficiary of their £230,000 estate in their will.
The father-of-three first tried to drown them by staging a road accident and driving a car into a canal with them strapped in the back, Manchester Crown Court heard.
He then “played the hero” boasting of his supposed rescue attempts after aborting the murder plan when bystanders went to their aid in the submerged car.
After that plan failed, armed with a sawn-off shotgun, he went to their quiet suburban home in Sale, Greater Manchester, last July 4.
His mother, still recovering from the canal crash, tried to fight him off in the hallway but went to the ground where her son put the gun against her left temple and pulled the trigger.
His father, in the lounge, was shot from close range in the neck as he either lay or was about to get up from a sofa.
He then placed the gun on his father’s lap in a bid to make it look like a murder-suicide.
Passing sentence, Mr Justice Hamblen told the defendant: “One can only imagine the horror of your parents’ last moments in this life, when they realised what a monster their son, whom they loved, had become.
“Mercifully their deaths were swift. The reason for the attempted murders and the murders was greed. You needed money.
“In Greek mythology, someone who killed a parent would be pursued until death by the Furies. Throughout time it has been recognised as a terrible and unnatural crime.
“You have done so by the barbaric act of shooting them at point-blank range with a sawn-off shotgun.”
Loved ones of the murder victims hissed “Yes!” and burst into tears after Seddon was convicted by a jury yesterday following a five-week trial.
In a statement read outside court, the family said: “The past nine months have been a very sad and emotional time for our family.
“The shock of having both Pat and Bob taken from us in such horrifying and tragic circumstances has left us feeling numb.
“Pat and Bob were a kind, loving and selfless couple who will be missed by their family, friends, and especially their grandson Daniel, who they cared for with great love and affection.”
Seddon had lived the high life in the past, posing in his Bentley Turbo, jetting around the world and staying at the Waldorf Astoria in New York on one trip.
The money came from a scam and he was jailed for fraud, but his thirst for money remained unquenched.
His parents had already gifted him £40,000 in cash and bought his home in Seaham, Co Durham, to keep a roof over his head.
The couple, married for 47 years, made a will in October 2009, naming each other as beneficiary if one of them died, with their estate worth £230,000.
But if they both died, their son Stephen got the lot.
On March 20 last year Seddon made the first attempt to kill his parents by faking the car accident, taking his parents out for a surprise meal as a belated Mother’s Day present.
With his parents and nephew Daniel in the car, Seddon veered off the road and into Bridgewater Canal in Timperley, south Manchester.
Witnesses who ran to assist shouted for him to get off the car – as he was making it sink.
By July last year his father at least had come to realise the terrible truth about his son.
Robert Seddon confided in his GP that he believed the canal “accident” had been a deliberate attempt to kill him – and he intended to confront his son.
The next day he was dead.
Police believe it was almost a triple murder.
Seddon had taken three shotgun cartridges with him – he did not realise his nephew Daniel was in respite care that day and so not at home when the killer came calling.
Detective Superintendent Denise Worth, from Greater Manchester Police, said: “I actually find it difficult to put into words – someone who could kill and murder their own parents.
“It is hard to describe somebody prepared to do that. He portrayed himself as a devoted and loving son and told lie after lie after lie. He’s just an evil, wicked man who did it all for greed.”
Amanda Knox is “very anxious” as Italy’s top criminal court hears arguments from prosecutors appealing over her acquittal of the murder of her roommate, a lawyer said today.
Luciano Ghirga said he spoke to Knox by phone.
The Court of Cassation is considering prosecutors’ contentions that the 2011 acquittals of American Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend over the murder of British student Meredith Kercher should be thrown out and a new trial ordered.
Prosecutors in Italy can appeal over acquittals. In the first trial, Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were convicted of the 2007 murder in the university town of Perugia and given longprison sentences. They were acquitted on appeal and Knox returned to the US
Defence lawyers argue that the 2011 acquittals were justified.
The court could rule later today.
A group of well-trained gunmen stormed an Indonesian jail and killed four inmates accused of murdering a special forces soldier.
At least 17 masked men angry over the killing of a member of Indonesia’s elite military unit, known as Kopassus, broke into the prison on the main island of Java early today, said police chief Brigadier General Dabar Rahardjo.
They were angry about the death of the member of Kopassus, allegedly by the four men detained in Yogyakarta’s Cebongan prison
The attackers tortured several guards and forced them to open the jail cell.
The four detainees were dragged from their cell and shot with automatic weapons before the gunmen destroyed surveillance cameras and fled.
“They looked very professional,” Brig Gen Rahardjo said. “Their acts were completed in just five minutes.”
He said the attack was apparently triggered by the murder of a Kopassus member on Tuesday at a Yogyakarta cafe.
Four suspects were arrested by police hours later and three others remain at large.
Police and military investigators were still collecting evidence from the scene, and several witnesses were being questioned.
“Whoever did it should be immediately arrested and prosecuted,” said Djoko Suyanto, co-ordinating minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs.
Kopassus troops have been implicated in a range of war crimes and human rights violations over the years. Indonesian officials say they have worked to address the problems.
Earlier this month, dozens of Indonesian soldiers angry over the killing of a comrade by police, attacked and burned down a police headquarters and four other stations in South Sumatra province.
A murder suspect who escaped from a prison van more than a year ago was flown back to the UK today after being arrested in Northern Cyprus.
John Anslow, 32, was being transported to Stafford Crown Court when he escaped from the van near HMP Hewell Grange, in Tardebigge near Bromsgrove, on January 23 last year.
A Staffordshire Police spokeswoman said Anslow was arrested for immigration offences in the Alancak area of Northern Cyprus on Wednesday before being deported by the Turkish Cypriot authorities.
He was arrested upon arrival at Heathrow Airport earlier today before being transferred to a high-security prison.
Anslow is due to appear via video link at Stafford Crown Court on Monday for failing to appear at court.
Anslow, from Tipton, West Midlands, was one of five men charged with the murder of businessman Richard Deakin in Chasetown, Staffordshire, in July 2010.
Police said Mr Deakin’s family have been updated about the latest development.
Nine men have been arrested and charged by West Mercia Police in connection with Anslow’s escape in the past three weeks, the spokeswoman added.