Jail for man who raped woman, 67, on her way to Christmas dance in Ayrshire

Scotsman | 26 June 2019 |

“On your own account, on the day in question you had been drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis and were angry.”

A sex attacker who brutally raped a pensioner as she made her way to a Christmas dance has been jailed for seven-and-a-half years .

James Black, 40, struck after the woman began walking through an unlit lane towards a hall in Saltcoats, Ayrshire.

A judge told Black: “You were convicted, on your own plea, of an extremely grave sexual offence, namely the rape to injury of a 67-year-old retired lady who was to all intents a stranger to you.”

Lord Arthurson said at the High Court in Edinburgh that the offence was “wholly despicable and utterly abhorrent”.

The judge said: “On your own account, on the day in question you had been drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis and were angry.”

He told Black, formerly of Stevenston, Ayrshire, that he would have faced a 10-year prison sentence but for his guilty plea.

The judge also ordered that Black should be kept under supervision for a further three years and warned that if he breached licence conditions during that period he could be returned to prison.

Black earlier admitted assaulting and raping the woman in December 8 last year at a lane at Canal Street, in Saltcoats.

During the attack he grabbed the victim, put an arm across her neck and struggled with her before putting his hands round her neck and forcing her to the ground.

Black pulled down the woman’s leggings and pants and forced her legs apart before raping her during the violent ordeal.

The sex attacker was later arrested in connection with another matter but told police: “That wisnae me. I chased a guy away from there.”

He then told a social worker that he had fallen out with his girlfriend, had followed someone, that something bad had happened and the woman was “very scared”.

Forensic scientists also found material linking Black to the attack on the woman who was unable to provide a description of the rapist.

Advocate depute Mark McGuire said that the woman travelled to Saltcoats to meet a relative and they went for a drink at a pub before she went to another bar on her way to the Christmas event.

After leaving the bar she began walking through the lane when Black approached her from behind and put his arm across her neck.

The woman struggled and tried to push him away but was forced to the ground. She kicked out to try to stop him taking off her boots, but he pulled down her pants and leggings and prised her legs apart.

The prosecutor said: “Nothing was said by either the accused or the complainer during the rape.”

Black fled following the sex attack and the woman went to the dance venue. She revealed what had happened to her to a barmaid and a taxi driver who encouraged her to contact the police.

She woke the following morning with pain in her back and thighs and saw her legs were bruised. She later spoke to a relative who called the police.

A trawl of CCTV footage showed the woman leaving a bar with a man following her a short time later. He was seen returning to the bar about half an hour later with a hand injury and dried blood on his head and hand.

The victim was found to have extensive bruising on her inner thighs, including finger mark imprints and injury to her genital area.

Defence counsel Lorraine Glancy said that alcohol and drugs have been “problematic issues” for Black in the past.

She said Black understood that a prison sentence was the only disposal available and added: “It is fair to say that he, upon his release into the community, will require close supervision.”

Black was placed on the sex offenders’ register indefinitely.

https://www.scotsman.com/news/crime/jail-for-man-who-raped-woman-67-on-her-way-to-christmas-dance-in-ayrshire-1-4954596

Man jailed after leaving girlfriend for dead in Camden Road hotel – because he ‘thought dead friend was communicating with her’

Ham & High | 20 Aug 2019 |

A former student at City Academy, Hackney, he had been “smoking cannabis and drinking brandy” to excess in the weeks between his friend’s murder and the attack on Ms Albano. But despite smoking in the hotel bathroom, he had not been incapacitated by drink or drugs on the night in question, the court heard.

Japhet Bokwa, 19, was convicted of the brutal assault – which has left his former partner Joana Albano, with permanent brain damage – earlier this year.

He will serve a minimum of six and a half years in prison – less the year and a month he has spent on remand.

Judge John Dodds QC said the life sentence was justified because “there’s no way of telling the length of time you will remain dangerous”.

The attack happened at the Dome Camden hotel in June last year.

The young couple – who were both studying for further education qualifications – chose to stay the night there.

In the morning, Bokwa left the hotel after 11.30. Ms Albano – 18 at the time of the attack and from Hoxton – was found on the floor of their room with horrific injuries to her head, face, neck, arms and legs.

She spent the next seven months in a vegetative state.

Passing sentence, Judge Dodds said he had been left with no option but to consider Bokwa as dangerous and lock him up for life given the level of violence used towards the “much-loved” Ms Albano and the fact it had coincided with a psychotic episode – which medical experts had told the court was “likely” to happen again.

The unusually low minimum tariff reflected the fact that, in different circumstances, the judge would have passed a 13-year sentence.

He said: “On June 15 last year you and your girlfriend booked into a hotel in Camden intending to spend the night together. You left the hotel the following day. Your girlfriend was close to death. She had been brutally assaulted many times and left in a state of undress.

“You came very close to murdering her – that’s the harsh reality of this case. She had her whole life before her and you have taken that away from her and her family. She was an intelligent and ambitious young woman with great plans for the future. Those plans have been dashed.

“No sentence I can pass today can possibly […] repair the damaged caused.”

In mitigation, defence lawyer Ms Nerida Harford-Bell said Bokwa had been disturbed by the murder of “close friend” Israel Ogunsola in April 2018. Israel was stabbed by Jonathan Abora and another man who has yet to be found in Link Street, Hackney.

“That’s very much the background,” Ms Harford-Bell said, adding Bokwa had “no history of violence, anti-social behaviour or any criminal behaviour” prior to the attack.

The judge accepted Bokwa had suffered a pyschotic episode either during the attack or in its immediate aftermath.

A former student at City Academy, Hackney, he had been “smoking cannabis and drinking brandy” to excess in the weeks between his friend’s murder and the attack on Ms Albano. But despite smoking in the hotel bathroom, he had not been incapacitated by drink or drugs on the night in question, the court heard.

Although Bokwa did not give evidence, he had told a member of staff at the John Howard secure unit – where he was held for a number of months after being sectioned following his arrest – that he had “believed his dead friend was communicating with her” and that Ms Albano was “possessed by the devil”.

In a statement read in court by prosecutor Ms Usha Shergill on behalf of Ms Albano’s family, her cousin said: “The events of June 15, 2018, have totally transformed our lives. She was outgoing, focused and independent and she had a close network of friends. She was like a sister, and I remain in disbelief and shock.”

After the sentencing, Det Con Paul Needley of Camden and Islington’s safeguarding unit told this newspaper: “Bokwa’s actions resulted in what the judge rightly described as a brutal and sustained attack on a defenceless and innocent young woman. This attack has led to her life being altered forever.

“Domestic violence is a serious crime. It is a crime perpetrated by someone you love and who is supposed to love you. This case illustrates the real damage caused by this sort of offence.”

The detective added that, although Ms Albano had been unable to speak for herself at the trial, Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service “will always stand with victims of this horrendous crime and will prosecute those who perpetrate it”.

https://www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/crime-court/japhet-bokwa-hackney-man-gets-life-sentence-for-domestic-violence-attack-in-camden-hotel-1-6225562

 

Every word of judge’s speech as he locked up two teenagers following death of Yousef Makki

Manchester Evening Post | 25 July 2019 |

It is rightly recognised on your behalf that your use of cannabis that day, by your own admissions is an aggravating factor. As reflected in the evidence before me, cannabis consumption can alter peoples’ perception and behaviour.

You stand to be sentenced following your guilty pleas, in the case of the first defendant to one count of perverting the course of justice and one count of possession of a bladed article, and in the case of the second defendant to one count of possession of a bladed article.

Reporting restrictions apply in this case as you were each 17 at the time of commission of the offences for which you stand to be sentenced, and remain 17 at the time of sentence.

Accordingly I shall refer to you as D1 and D2.

At the end of a four week trial, you D1, were acquitted by the jury of the murder of 17 year old Yousef Makki on 2 March 2019 in Gorse Bank Road Hale Barns, the fatal injury to Yousef Makki being inflicted by a flick knife that you were holding at the time and which is the subject matter of your plea of guilty to possession of a bladed article.

It was one of a pair purchased by you D2 by mail order over the internet from China using a false name and delivered to the address of an unwitting friend. Your plea of guilty relates to your possession of one of those two flick knives on 2 March.

The count of perverting the course of justice relates to the misleading information that you D1 gave to the police at the scene which diverted police attention away from you and falsely suggested that those responsible for the stabbing had made good their escape in a grey VW Polo, which was taken seriously by the senior officer at the scene (PS Bamber), as is readily apparent from the body worn footage, and led PS Bamber to circulate the information on the police network.

The backdrop to your offending is depressingly all too familiar. A warped culture whereby the possession of knives is considered to be “cool” and “aesthetically pleasing”, and knives are routinely carried on our streets.

Mix that with youth as well as drugs and drug dealing, as in the present case, and it is a recipe for disaster and the tragic, but all too predictable, events that unfolded on the early evening of 2 March 2019, with the loss of the young life of your friend Yousef Makki who had everything to live for, and the irreperable [sic] harm that resulted, which has changed the lives of his family and friends forever.

The victim impact statement of Yousef’s mother speaks volumes in that regard.

You will both have to live with your actions that day and the consequences of the same for the rest of your lives. That is a different form of sentence to the sentences that I can and must pass in respect of the offending to which you have pleaded guilty.

It is a sentence from which there is no appeal, and it is a sentence that will never be spent.

The sentences I must now pass are for the offending to which you have pleaded guilty based on the seriousness and culpability of that offending, and nothing else. They are not based, and cannot be based, by reference to the tragic loss of a young life on that fateful evening.

From the evidence I have heard in the course of your trial it is clear that both of you had an unhealthy fixation with knives which is all too common amongst the youth of today. It must stop. There is nothing cool about knives.

Their carrying all too often leads to their use and to tragedy, and it is a fallacy that they can keep you safe – very much the reverse, as events all too often demonstrate.

Knife crime is a canker on society, and it affects all spectrums of society – the message that must be brought home is that knives kill, and knives ruin lives.

The best legacy of Yousef’s tragic death would be if this message could be got across – and knives regarded as “uncool” by the young in society going forward.

You D1 have admitted that you found knives “cool” and found particular knives “aesthetically pleasing”. You videoed yourself with knives – including a machete in your bedroom which you wielded with slashing motions at two friends, and stabbed your bed whilst seemingly acting out violent scenarios.

This seems to have led to a normalising process by which you became over familiar with the carrying of a knife, and with its handling.

You also listened to drill music and gangster rap glorifying the carrying and use of knives. I am quite satisfied that the use of such a soundtrack on one of your videos was not coincidental, but whether that is so or not it is clear that you associated yourself with the lyrics of that genre of music and the constant references to the carrying and use of “shanks” which deadened you to the risks and consequences of the carrying of knives.

You D2 also clearly have a fascination with knives. It was at your initiative that you went to the trouble and expense of importing the two flick knives by mail order from China. This required planning and conscious intent. You used a false name and you persuaded an unwitting friend to have parcels delivered to his home which unknown to him contained the flick knives. He was horrified, and rightly so, when he discovered the content of the parcels.

You wrongly regarded knives as something to show off and create an image with.

Those two flick knives had a sharp thin pointed blade that was deployed and retracted with the pressing of a button on the shaft of the knife. They are offensive weapons with no legitimate purpose. They are designed by their very nature to injure or to kill.

The ease with which they can do so was graphically illustrated in the present case. Neither of you had any legitimate reason for their possession, still less in a public place. It is no excuse D1 that you had be [sic] attacked in the past. That is not an excuse to carry a knife.

The adage that death and serious injury are far more likely to occur when a knife is present is all too true. You D1 say that you now recognise that – I hope that is true.

So it was that in the early afternoon of 2 March 2019 you two and Yousef Makki cycled into the Booths car park at Hale. You D1 are seen smoking a spliff as you arrive.

By your own admission you had more cannabis in your bag. We know from the toxicology evidence that following the stabbing both you and Yousef each had the products of cannabis and the benzodiazepine alzalopram (xanax) in your bloodstream.

We also know, by your own admission, that you D2 also smoked cannabis that afternoon. We will never know the precise amount of cannabis constituents in your bloodstream as your blood was never tested. It was also you D2 who arranged the ill-fated drug deal for you to purchase cannabis from your drug supplier that afternoon.

Before departing for that drugs meet the three of you compared knives, and Yousef showed you, D1, how the flick knives operated. Either at that time or later at the drugs meet you D1 came into possession of one of the flick knives from D2 that D2 had previously purchased.

You D2, by your plea of guilty, admit that you had one of the flick knives in your possession that afternoon.

For whatever reason (and the jury rejected the prosecution case that you conspired together to steal the cannabis) the drugs meet was not a success, and you D1 were beaten up and your expensive carbon fibre bicycle was thrown over a hedge.

You were to search for that bike for over an hour, it appears without success. On any view, and as you admit, you were angry with D2 and Yousef for leaving you, though you told the jury you were more angry with D2, and that Yousef helped you look for your bike.

The precise events that followed will never be known. What is known is that an altercation followed between you D1 and Yousef, during the course of which he suffered a fatal injury from the knife that you produced, and was one of the two knives that D2 had purchased.

Your immediate reaction to those events when the police arrived at the scene, and whilst attempts were being made to save Yousef’s life, D1, was to provide misleading information to the police which diverted police attention away from you and falsely suggested that those responsible for the stabbing had made good their escape in a grey VW Polo, which was taken seriously by the senior officer at the scene (PS Bamber), as is readily apparent from the body worn footage, and led PS Bamber to circulate the information on the police network.

Turning then to the approach to sentencing you in relation to the offences to which you have pleaded guilty.

You were both 17 years old at the time of the offences remain 17 years old as at the date of sentence. In sentencing you I confirm that I have had regard to, as I am required to do, the aim of the youth justice system which is to prevent offending by children and young people (Section 37 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998), and your welfare (Section 44 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933).

I have also taken full account of the Overarching Principles of Sentencing Youths guidelines issued by the Sentencing Council which apply.

In this regard whilst the seriousness of the offences will be the starting point, the approach to sentencing should be individualistic and focussed upon each of you.

I bear well in mind that children and young people are not fully developed and have not attained full maturity, and that the impact of punishment is likely to be felt more heavily by a child or young person in comparison to an adult.

I also bear well in mind that any restriction on liberty must be commensurate with the seriousness of the offence, and that in considering the seriousness of any offence it is necessary to consider the child or young person’s culpability in committing the offence and any harm which the offence caused, was intended to cause or might foreseeably have caused.

Turning then to the offences in respect of which you have pleaded guilty addressing first the count of perverting the course of justice to which you D1 have pleaded guilty. In this regard it is well established that the three factors to which the court should have regard are (1) the seriousness of the substantive offence to which the perverting of the course of justice relates (2) the degree of persistence in the conduct; and (3) the effect of the attempt to pervert the course of justice on the course of justice itself.

Guidance has been given recently in R v Coslett (Catherine) 2017 EWCA Crim 2376 . The principles to be applied are set out at paragraphs [16] to [22], in particular:

“16. Our attention was invited to the judgment of Stanley Burnton LJ in Tunney [2007] 1 Cr App R(S) 91, in which the court provided some guidance on sentencing for this kind of offence. He observed at paragraph 10: “The particular factors which the court must have regard to are, first, the seriousness of the substantive offence to which the perverting of the course of justice relates. Here the offence in question, murder/manslaughter, was at the most serious end of the spectrum. The second matter which the court must have regard to is the degree of persistence in the conduct in question by the offender. […] Thirdly, one must consider the effect of the attempt to pervert the course of justice on the course of justice itself. Here it is unsuccessful. Nonetheless, the substantive offence of murder or manslaughter could scarcely have been more serious.”

17. Other decisions were put before us in which the court has adopted a similar approach. They were said to establish the following principles:

18. A sentence of immediate custody is required in all but the most exceptional circumstances (Attorney General’s Reference No 35 of 2009 [2010] 1 Cr App R(S) 61 at paragraph 11).

….

20. Where the offender provides a false account to the police investigating a serious offence: “The general area of starting point for offences in the particular circumstances of this kind is bound to be measured in years rather than months, something probably between two and three years.”

21. (Attorney General’s Reference No 109 of 2010 [2010] EWCA Crim 2382).

Applying those principles to the present case. Here the seriousness of the substantive offence to which the perverting of the course of justice relates was at the most serious end of the spectrum, namely the murder or manslaughter of Yousef Makki.

Secondly in terms of the degree of persistence, you maintained this false account throughout the time at the scene and indeed it was some 24 hours before you corrected your lies.

Thirdly, and whatever scepticism was expressed about consistency of accounts and whether the full story was coming out, your account was taken seriously, you were treated at the scene as a witness not a suspect, and I have no doubt whatsoever that valuable police resources were wasted whilst a futile search was no doubt being made for the VW Polo – resources which would otherwise have been available to others in immediate need.

You lied convincingly and it did mislead the police.

Your conduct in terms of the disposal of the knife was an aggravating feature of your offending in this regard, but I will be careful to ensure that there is no double counting as this was also an aggravating feature in your offending in terms of possession of a bladed article.

You, as well as D2, are clearly, intelligent young people with a good education. It would be an insult to your obvious intelligence to suggest that either of you were unaware of the seriousness of the offence of carrying a knife in public and the risk of very serious harm that could result from the use of the type that you each had in your possession.

I note that you D1 were assessed by Ms Widdowson, in her detailed pre-sentence report, as having thinking and maturity skills commensurate with your age.

So far as the offence of perverting the course of justice, this is an even more serious offence striking, as it does, at the very heart of the judicial system.

Given your intelligence and level of comprehension and maturity displayed by the manner in which you gave evidence, which I was well placed to assess over an extended period during the trial, you D1 cannot but have been aware of the seriousness of what had just occurred and as to the serious effect of your lies on the course of justice, lies that you persevered in for some considerable time as you gave your initial accounts.

Again I note that Ms Widdowson assessed your emotional and cognitive maturity as commensurate with your age.

I am satisfied that you had the necessary maturity to understand the consequences of your actions – as did D2 in relation to the offending to which he has pleaded guilty.

I recognise that young people are prone to impulsive behaviour and may not appreciate the impact of their behaviour, but I am satisfied you were both aware of the dangers of carrying knives, and you D1 lied and lied convincingly to the police at the scene.

Whilst not cynical or pre-meditated your lying occurred with knowledge of what had just occurred and with clear intent of diverting the police’s attention away from you. There was nothing impulsive about your convincing account to officers at the scene.

The officers’ actions as a result of your account speak for themselves.

I bear well in mind the matters identified by your counsel in their helpful sentencing note, in particular that you had yourself been subject to a violent attack earlier in the evening from the Choudhary brothers and were involved in an altercation with Yousef that had led to his death from a knife in your hand, in circumstances where you considered that you needed to defend yourself.

I also bear in mind that you were aware that you had caused at the very least very serious injury to your friend, and I have no doubt that it was a very traumatic experience as you attempted to save Yousef’s life in the immediate aftermath of your actions.

Nevertheless I do not agree that your actions were unsophisticated or ineffectual, at least in the short term – anyone who has seen your performance on the body worn footage will appreciate that your performance was convincing as evinced by the fact that despite a potential fatality having occurred and you being at the scene, you were not treated as a suspect, and as your account was given, updates were given by PS Bamber clearly designed to search for the presumed offenders.

Your lies may have been short-lived and ill conceived but they had a real effect on the contemporaneous operational activities. Nor were they doomed to fail had you not had a change of heart and had the weapon not been located.

I bear well in mind the fact that you are of previous good character, the mitigation offered on your behalf and the character reference I have been provided with.

In particular I bear in mind that you faced charges of the utmost gravity from March to July 2019 and that your conduct has been the subject of intense media comment both before and after the verdicts, not all of which has been focussed upon the evidence that was heard by the jury.

I have also given very careful consideration to the contents of Ms Widdowson’s pre-sentence report which has been prepared with obvious care and identifies that you D1 know that you are facing a custodial sentence, and that a custodial sentence would go a long way in reinforcing to you that offences of this nature are extremely serious.

On any view the custody threshold has been passed and passed by some margin. This is not a case in which a referral order would be appropriate as Ms Widdowson recognises. I am asked to consider the possibility of a community disposal in the form of a Youth Rehabilitation Order with an Intensive Supervision Requirement, and I have given that careful consideration.

However a community disposal, as reflected in such an order, would not reflect the seriousness of your offending in relation to perverting the course of justice and possession of a bladed article and the circumstances of this case that I have identified.

I have had regard to your welfare and to the need to provide for your education and training and I am satisfied that your offending is so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified. I am therefore going to make a Detention and Training Order.

Had you been an adult I consider that your offending is so serious that an appropriate starting point would have been one of 3 years’ imprisonment.

I bear well in mind your age, your previous good character and your personal mitigation. Given your age (17) and maturity (which I was well placed to assess during the course of your trial and giving evidence and consider to be at least equivalent to your chronological age if not greater) I consider a sentence around two-thirds of the adult sentence would be appropriate having regard to such matters as well as your personal mitigation.

Before full credit for your guilty plea I consider that the appropriate sentence would be 24 months. However I will also take into account the time you have spent on qualifying curfew (equivalent to 138 days) and also take into account that you have been subject to an intensive supervision and surveillance package.

Taking all that into account, and after giving you full credit for your guilty plea, I will round your sentence down to a 12 months Detention and Training Order.

This is the shortest period which in my opinion matches the seriousness of your offending and the mitigating factors in your case.

Turning to your plea of guilty to possession of a bladed article. This is clearly Category A offending with a starting point for an adult of 6 months with a range of 3 months to 1 year.

I have had specific regard to the Bladed Articles and Offensive Weapons (Possession and Threats) – Children and Young People Guideline, which identifies that in relation to possession of a bladed article whether produced or not a custodial sentence or youth rehabilitation order with intensive supervision and surveillance may be justified. In the present case the knife was not only produced by you D1, but inflicted a fatal wound upon Yousef. There is the significant aggravating factor of the attempts to conceal or dispose of evidence – which is common ground.

The toxicology reports also show that you had alprazolam (xanax) a benzodiazepine, and Carboxy-THC a constituent of cannabis, in your bloodstream when tested later that night (and so at the time of your offending).

I have had regard to the agreed facts and the medical evidence of Dr Wilson. Dr Wilson’s evidence, which I accept, is that these can alter peoples’ perception and behaviour.

Whilst it is not possible to say precisely what influence such drugs had on you, I consider the use of such drugs is an aggravating factor. At the end of the day you drew a knife in public which was on any view an unwise thing to do, and your judgment cannot have been assisted by prior consumption of both a benzodiazepine and cannabis.

I also bear in mind the established evidence of community wide impact of knife crime (such wider impact being an aggravating factor under the Sentencing Children and Young Person Definitive Guideline).

Again I have had regard to your welfare and to the need to provide for your education and training. In all the circumstances I consider that the seriousness of your offending is such that only a custodial sentence can be justified.

If you had been an adult I consider that the appropriate sentence would have been one of 11 months’ imprisonment. Having regard to your age and the personal mitigation offered on your behalf and to totality (and having studiously avoiding any double-counting), I consider that after giving you full credit for your guilty plea the appropriate sentence is a Detention and Training Order of 4 months, consecutive to the sentence passed for perverting the course of justice.

This is the shortest period which in my opinion matches the seriousness of your offending and the mitigating factors in your case. The total period of your Detention and Training Order is accordingly 16 months (as to permissible DTO consecutive sentences see R v G.N. 2000 WL 1480067).

You can expect to serve up to one half of the sentence in detention and training. When you are released, you will be under supervision until the sentence has ended.

If you break the terms of your supervision or commit a further offence during that period, a court can order your detention in secure accommodation.

D2, you stand to be sentenced for one offence of possessing a bladed article. In your case too this is clearly Category A offending with a starting point for an adult of 6 months with a range of 3 months to 1 year. I have had specific regard to the Bladed Articles and Offensive Weapons (Possession and Threats) – Children and Young People Guideline, which identifies that in relation to possession of a bladed article whether produced or not a custodial sentence or youth rehabilitation order with intensive supervision and surveillance may be justified.

It is rightly recognised on your behalf that your use of cannabis that day, by your own admissions is an aggravating factor. As reflected in the evidence before me, cannabis consumption can alter peoples’ perception and behaviour.

It will never be known if you were actually under the influence of cannabis (as your blood was never tested) but you had consumed cannabis that day and on D1’s account that would have been before the knife that inflicted the fatal wound was passed by you to D1 immediately before the drugs meet that you had arranged for you to purchase further cannabis.

That drugs meet, at which you were all present, followed on from a meeting in the Booths carpark where all the knives were out and compared, and cannabis was consumed by D1. Part of the factual matrix to your offending that I consider is also relevant is that you had purchased the two flick knives and had then given one of those flick knives to D1, which inflicted the fatal injury on Yousef Makki.

You also disposed of one of the knives (not the knife that inflicted the fatal wound, nor the knife that you had previously had in your possession) at the scene, and prior to the arrival of the police.

Again I also bear in mind the established evidence of community wide impact of knife crime (such wider impact being an aggravating factor under the Sentencing Children and Young Person Definitive Guideline).

I bear well in mind your age (17) and your previous good character (including the character references testifying to your character) and the personal mitigation offered on your behalf, including your age, your previous good character, your expressed remorse and regret and the impact of your offending upon you both in terms of the matters identified by Dr Latif, and also in terms of repercussions upon you.

I acknowledge that you yourself have suffered health wise and have been diagnosed with PTSD accompanied by a generalised anxiety disorder – but these are all consequences of your own actions that led up to the chain of events that resulted in the death of Yousef Makki from a knife you had purchased, and passed to D1, on your own admission.

I have had careful regard to the pre-sentence report prepared by Bonita Jordan. I do not consider that a referral Order with an Intensive Contract would begin to reflect the seriousness of your offending.

As with D1 I have given careful consideration to whether a community disposal in the form of a Youth Rehabilitation Order with Intensive Supervision and Surveillance would be appropriate. However a community disposal, as reflected in such an order, would not reflect the seriousness of your offending in relation to possession of a bladed article in the circumstances of this case. I have no doubt that a custodial placement whether in a YOI or a Secure Training Setting will be difficult for you, but you have committed a serious crime, and one that only justifies a custodial sentence.

There is a price to pay for your actions. I can only hope that other young people in your position will learn from your mistakes, and will be put off taking knives onto the streets.

I have had regard to your welfare and to the need to provide for your education and training and I am satisfied that your offending is so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified. I am therefore going to make a Detention and Training Order.

Had you been an adult I consider that your offending is so serious that an appropriate starting point would have been one of 10 months’ imprisonment prior to mitigation and credit for guilty plea.

In all the circumstances, and after having full regard to the personal mitigation available to you and giving you full credit for your guilty plea, I consider that the appropriate sentence is a Detention and Training Order of 4 months.

This is the shortest period which in my opinion matches the seriousness of your offending and the mitigating factors in your case.

In reaching this sentence I have also given careful consideration to whether, in the exercise of my discretion, it would be appropriate to take into account time spent on non-qualifying curfew but in the circumstances of your offending, and the lack of electronic monitoring, I do not consider that it would be appropriate to do so.

I note the expressed concern about the impact of any custodial sentence on your ability to resume full time education. In terms of the length of sentence I have passed, the reality is that it is not of such length that it will prevent you carrying on studies in full time education upon your release, albeit it may delay the commencement of those studies depending on when you are released. A custodial sentence is, however, necessitated by the seriousness of your offending.

You can expect to serve up to one half of the sentence in detention and training. When you are released, you will be under supervision until the sentence has ended.

If you break the terms of your supervision or commit a further offence during that period, a court can order your detention in secure accommodation.

I order the forfeiture and destruction of the knives. The victim surcharge must be paid in each case and I make a collection order in that regard. I make no order as to prosecution costs.

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/every-word-judges-speech-locked-16644591

Mary Sowerby death: Son jailed for stabbing mum as she watched TV

BBC News | 24 July 2019 |

“The defendant was experiencing hallucinations, hearing voices and tried to cope by drinking and smoking cannabis.”

A man who stabbed his mum to death in a “brutal and frenzied” attack as she watched TV has been jailed for life.

Lee Sowerby, 45, stabbed Mary Annie Sowerby “with the largest kitchen knife possible” in her home in Dearham, Cumbria, on 22 January.

Preston Crown Court heard the 69-year-old was stabbed repeatedly in the chest and neck and died at the scene.

Sowerby pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to a minimum of 11 years.

Judge Mark Brown QC described Sowerby as “extremely dangerous”.

He said: “This was a brutal and frenzied attack on a victim who had no chance.

“You had considered ending her life for some time.

“The bitter ironies are that your mother had been devoted to you and done her very best for you.

Lee Sowerby

Prosecutor Tim Evans told the court that Sowerby had a history of mental health issues dating back to the mid-90s after taking drugs “as part of the rave scene”.

The court heard he had been diagnosed with Paranoia Schizophrenia and had previously been the subject of two hospital orders by courts, including in 2008 when he was “millimetres away” from stabbing his brother’s ex girlfriend.

He was given an absolute discharge in 2012 but by October 2018 his mental health was deteriorating as he refused to take his medication, the court was told.

A week before he stabbed his mum, Sowerby was taken by his father Leonard to a mental health team after he had walked to Dearham in the middle of the night.

Mr Evans said: “The defendant was experiencing hallucinations, hearing voices and tried to cope by drinking and smoking cannabis.

“Mr Sowerby senior was plainly seeking to support his son.”

In a victim impact statement, the Sowerby family said the death had been “devastating” and expressed “frustrations of failures at the hands of the mental health services”.

The judge said there were “justifiable concerns” about how the case had been handled, adding: “It does seem there should be some investigation or inquiry as to what has gone wrong.”

Sowerby had initially been charged with murder but his guilty plea to manslaughter was accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-49101734

Samuel King, from Ashford, jailed for attempting to rape woman in Dane John Gardens, Canterbury

Kent Online | 4 Nov 2016 |

The victim had been drinking in a city bar in May this year and was on her way home when she was spotted by the cousins, who had been drinking and smoking cannabis.

https://www.kentonline.co.uk/canterbury/news/sex-fiend-jailed-for-stalking-115178/

Violent husband slashed wife from mouth to ear with Rambo-style knife as they watched TV

Liverpool Echo | 17 July 2019 |

Adrian Sword attacked his partner of 32 years after an argument broke out over cannabis, while the couple watched TV, in their Wirral home.

A violent husband told his wife “your claret will be all over my tiles” as he sliced her from mouth to ear with a Rambo-style knife.

Adrian Sword attacked his partner of 32 years after an argument broke out over cannabis, while the couple watched TV, in their Wirral home.

Liverpool Crown Court heard how at around 11.30pm, on March 30, the 54-year-old picked up the frightening 8ins long bladed weapon, placed one hand over his wife Jacqueline’s mouth and swiped the knife across her right cheek.

The court heard the dad-of-two, who was under the influence of alcohol and drugs, had become “angry” that his wife had taken some of his cannabis and then erupted after he accused her of selling some of it.

In a fit of rage the grandad chillingly told his wife “your claret will be all over my tiles” – in reference to her blood – before slicing her face, causing a deep, 10cm wound.

Following the attack Sword went to the house of a friend and said: “I’ve done Jackie.”

Judge Gary Woodhall said: “You told your friend you had cut your wife’s throat and you said ‘the knife was f*****g sharp’

“You then said both ‘I hope I have not killed her’ and ‘I hope I have killed her’.”

Prosecutor Simon Duncan told the court how, after the attack, Sword tried to barricade himself into his friend’s home.

Mr Duncan said: “The defendant attempted to barricade the back door.

“He has a machete and talked about ‘going down fighting’

“His friend told him ‘don’t be stupid’.

“The defendant then handed over the machete to another friend who had arrived.

“I hope I have not killed her, I hope I have killed her”

“When the police did turn up the defendant came out the house alone and there was no issue with his arrest.”

On his arrest for [sic] Sword told Merseyside Police: “I don’t know what you are on about”.

He subsequently answered no comment to many questions when interviewed but claimed that his wife of 12 years had in fact sliced her own face, in a bid to “stitch him up”, because he said “I was going to leave her”.

In a victim impact statement read by defence barrister Nicholas Walker, Mrs Sword told how she can’t sleep since the attack on March 30.

She described her husband as having multiple personalities one which she said was “horrible and violent”.

Reading her statement Mr Walker said: “Mrs Sword says she is struggling on a daily basis even though that is with the knowledge that the defendant is locked away and he can’t get to her now.”

Mrs Sword, who has been left with considerable scarring, said she feels “nervous, scared and paranoid” thinking that people are staring at her when she goes out.

Mr Walker added: “She said ‘I can’t wait to go back home when I do venture out because I feel safer indoors’.”

The 57-year-old also told how the events of that evening come “flooding back” to her every time she looks in the mirror and sees her injury.

“It’s like I’m watching a DVD that keeps playing over and over.

“I feel like I am on a roller coaster and then what happens hits me like a sledge hammer.

“I try and put on a front in front of my kids and grand children but inside I’m a complete wreck.”

The statement added: “There are no winners [in this case], I have lost my husband. Their kids have lost their dad and the grandchildren their grandad.

“We are all grieving.

“I wish I could turn the clock back.

“I want to try and rebuild my life, I don’t want this to ruin what life I have left.

“I didn’t think this would be my future after being with him for 32 years.”

However despite the horrendous attack, which Judge Woodhall described as “calculating”, Mrs Sword was in court to support her husband.

And in court she stood up and said: “I still love him and want us to work it out.

“I have been with him 30 odd years and I can’t just chuck that away for one night of madness.”

Sword, of Hopfield Road in Moreton, has no previous convictions for violence, however the court heard five days before the attack he had thrown a beer can and glass at his wife, in another argument.

‘I still love him and want to work it out’

For the majority of the hearing and in particular when hearing his wife’s comments, he cried and asked for tissues.

Nicholas Walker, defending, told the court how his client is “ashamed” of his actions and “utterly remorseful”.

He said: “He is distraught at what he has done to his wife of three decades.

“He can’t believe he did it and told me he is ashamed.

“He has tried to kill himself on a number of occasions and said he can’t live with what he has done.”

‘He said he can’t live with what he has done’

Mr Walker said a combination of alcohol and drug abuse coupled with a number of “very sad events” in his client’s life, including the death of a friend, nephew and grandchildren had led Sword to “snap”.

He said he suffered with mental health problems and depression.

Sentencing Sword to nine years for wounding with intent, Judge Woodhall said: “The wound you caused to your wife’s face is very significant.

“It stretches from the corner of her mouth to her ear.

“She required 15 stitches and although the muscle was visible thankfully no nerve damage was caused.

“I saw pictures of the wound and I have seen your wife in the court room today and she will suffer a scar to a prominent part of her face for the rest of her life.

“It was a very serious injury.”

Sword will serve half of his sentence in custody and half on licence.

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/violent-husband-slashed-wife-mouth-16600618

Where were you?

Where were you when you heard about a man being stabbed to death on a train on 4 January this year? I remember where I was when I heard about the attacks of 11 September, 2001 (on a high school ‘retreat’ in a beautiful redwood forest in California) and 7 July, 2005 (about to walk our dogs), and the deaths of Dianna Spencer and Michael Jackson. 51-year-old victim Lee Pomeroy wasn’t a celebrity, and his sudden and violent death is of no apparent national or international significance, but I remember hearing about it on the day itself on BBC News as I waited for my turn at the barber’s.

Actually, that’s not quite accurate. I remember reading about it, on the scrolling news reel. I’d been running this website for several months by then, and had learnt to spot the signs of a psychopathic attack committed by someone whose mind is ‘steeped’ in cannabis (a simple task, if one isn’t closed to any criticism of this popular pleasure drug). As soon as I read the headline, therefore, I knew that the perpetrator would a) have stabbed his victim multiple times in a frenzy of violence, b) not evade capture for long, and c) turn out to have smoked vast amounts of cannabis for many years.

Sure enough, after stabbing Mr Pomeroy 18 times, Darren Pencille embarked on a pitiful and shameful attempt to evade capture by altering his appearance, aided by his repulsive girlfriend, which came to nothing. His claim that he acted in self defence, and his refusal to testify during the trial further showed that his once fertile mind had been turned into a nuclear wasteland. It came as no surprise when, a week before he was found guilty yesterday, it emerged that he smoked cannabis every day. 

As with countless other cases, I do not say that cannabis caused this attack. Violence is a voluntary action; nothing causes it. But just as there is a flagrant link between alcohol and many fights in city centres on Saturday nights, so there is blatant connection between Pencille’s heavy consumption of cannabis and his sudden decision to murder a man who had briefly blocked his passage in the aisle of a train from Guildford to London, and then stood up for himself in front of his teenage son when challenged and mocked about it. Those whose minds are steeped in drink do not commit such crimes. Their violence is always deplorable, often traumatic and occasionally fatal, but it is not frenzied and sustained. There are now too many similar cases for this terrible problem to be ignored. Here are some of them:

  1. Tragic Kane, 10, praised for bravery after saving life of girl from Coupar Angus killer: ‘Kane Morris, from Coupar Angus, died on November 11 last year after he was stabbed in his bed six times by his father Karl Morris, also known as Andrew. An eight-year-old girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was stabbed in her lung and survived the attack. Paramedics found that Kane, after being stabbed once in the chest and five times in the back, attempted to reach the room where the girl had been sleeping. At the High Court in Glasgow, Morris, 38, admitted a charge of culpable homicide, reduced from murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility, accepting he fatally struck Kane several times with a knife. He also admitted a charge of attempted murder against the girl and a third charge of possessing cannabis on November 11 last year.’ (19 June 2019)
  2. Teen who stabbed Joan Hoggett to death warned medics a year earlier: ‘Someone will get killed’: ‘Mountain [the defendant] said he started taking cannabis at age 15 but cut back because he experienced “profound hallucinations”.’ (11 Mar 2019)
  3. Reading man jailed for killing father of two in random attack in Bracknell: ‘Sentencing, Judge Paul Dugdale said: “I find that it is more likely than not that Liam Turner was not suffering from either schizophrenia or from a schizoaffective disorder at the time of the murder.” He instead theorised that a mixture of anti-social behaviour, anger, stress, alcohol and cannabis abuse were more important factors.’ (12 Feb 2019)
  4. Carl Madigan knifed Sam Cook in heart two weeks after friend slashed man’s stomach open: ‘Facebook accounts show Carl Madigan, 23, and Shaun Bethell, 19, hanging around together and smoking cannabis before the shocking offences which will now define their young lives.’ (16 June 2018)
  5. Predator jailed for ‘wicked’ murder of barmaid: ‘Fuelled by cocaine, cannabis and alcohol, Kasim Lewis, 31, attacked 22-year-old Iuliana Tudos with a bottle, and carved what appeared to be a Batman logo on her chest.’ (17 May 2018)
  6. Drug-crazed schizophrenic Polish warehouse worker broke into a family home and stabbed a mother-of-two to death while her helpless husband listened on the phone: ‘Porczynski, who was later found to have cocaine and cannabis in his system, seemed ‘distant’ and ‘confused’ but after searching him he was released. But he then went the short distance to his house at 10.50pm and armed himself with a kitchen knife, the court heard. Porczynski, who admitted smoking cannabis, returned around 11.20pm and first smashed his way into her next door neighbour’s house, Mr Shar, but ran away when he confronted him.’ (17 Dec 2016)
  7. Femi Nandap: Mentally ill student handed indefinite hospital order for Dr Jeroen Ensink murder: ‘The court heard Nandap’s mental illness began after he began to use cannabis heavily while living in the United States.’ (10 Oct 2016)
  8. Family of decapitated woman tell of despair as killer cleared of murder: ‘[The defendant’s] friends told police he regularly smoked skunk cannabis, took cocaine and had been known to drink whole bottles of spirits each day.’ (23 June 2015)
  9. Youth jailed for double murder: ‘Curran told the court he had spent most of that day drinking and taking drugs. He had been drinking vodka and alcopops and smoking cannabis. He had also taken between 15 and 20 Diazepam pills. He said the effect was the same as usual. He was “off [his] head”.’ (7 May 2010)
  10. Care in the Community patient with 39 convictions free to stab father to death in cannabis-induced psychosis: ‘A violent psychopath who stabbed a young father to death four months after walking free from court over another brutal attack has been jailed for life. Colin Welsh, 42, was sentenced to at least 12 years in prison today as a judge described him as ‘clearly dangerous’. After 20 years of smoking powerful cannabis the paranoid schizophrenic believed a ‘transmitting device’ had been implanted inside his inner ear by criminals to send him mad.’ (16 Mar 2010)
  11. ‘NHS failed to investigate why mental patient was free to murder my son’: ‘McKenzie, 25, had a history of mental illness but was being cared for in the community. He had stopped taking his medication and was smoking cannabis before he bought a carving knife and murdered the sound engineer.’ (25 Feb 2010)
  12. Schizophrenic cannabis user jailed for stabbing policeman to death: ‘The jury heard that 36-year-old Pc Henry was called to George Street in Luton just after 7am after Obih had stabbed window cleaner Stephen Chamberlain. As he tried to arrest him, the paranoid schizophrenic knifed Pc Henry, then stabbed him with the 4.5in (11.5cm) blade a second time as he lay on the ground.’ (24 Mar 2009)
  13. Doctors knew my son’s killer was a mentally ill skunk user: ‘Tung Minh Le, 17, was stabbed once in the heart in an “unprovoked, unpredicted [sic] and inexplicable” attack as he left a West End nightclub. His 18-year-old killer Chien Nguyen had become ill after starting to smoke cannabis at the age of 13.’ (12 Feb 2009)
  14. Man found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity: ‘The jury had deliberated for under one hour and had returned during that hour to ask if the fact that Mr Connors had smoked cannabis before the killing was relevant to his culpability.’ (4 Feb 2009)
  15. ‘I’ve been on telly… I’ve just murdered some guy’: Killer’s boast after stabbing disabled man: ‘Lorenzo Alonzi, defending, said that Kean, of George Street, Ayr, had a serious drug problem which began with him smoking cannabis when he was just 11. He added that at the time of the offence, Kean was taking 50 diazepam tablets a day combined with 50ml of methadone and cannabis.’ (14 Oct 2008)
  16. Teen guilty of dog walker murder: ‘Adrian Jones, 17, beat Kelly Hyde, 24, from Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, around the head with a barbell. Jones did not know his victim and police said they still did not know his motive. He sobbed in the dock as the verdict was read out… He told the jury he came across a dog lead used by Ms Hyde as he walked along the bridle path smoking cannabis on the day she disappeared.’ (17 July 2008)
  17. Cannabis addict jailed for life for stabbing Good Samaritan to death as he tried to protect elderly neighbour: ‘Rafiq Kashmiri, 50, launched the frenzied attack on Jon Cooper-Taylor after he rushed upstairs to help the 83-year-old woman after hearing the sound of crockery smashing in her flat… Psychiatrists discovered he was suffering from a manic episode bipolar disorder caused by a long history of cannabis dependency and abuse which caused ‘uncontrollable violence’. (16 July 2008)
  18. Why Shane Haynes killed Geraldine Brocklehurst remains mystery: ‘A 22-YEAR-OLD man will spend at least 16 years behind bars for murdering a Huddersfield prostitute. But the reason why cannabis-smoking Shane Haynes stabbed 40-year-old Geraldine Brocklehurst – leaving her to bleed to death – are [sic] unclear.’ (1 Mar 2008)
  19. ‘I’d like to execute the thugs who kicked my husband to death’, says the grief-stricken widow of Garry Newlove: ‘The gang was also high on skunk cannabis when they attacked the father-of-three when he remonstrated with them for vandalising his wife’s car.’ (12 Feb 2008)
  20. Skunk addicted schizophrenic fulfils sick fantasy by killing a black woman:  ‘Psychiatric reports stated that Maxwell was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and his abnormality was so great that it affected his judgment [sic].The reports also said his condition was exacerbated by the heavy use of skunk.’ (3 Apr 2007)
  21. Youth guilty of Dundee murder:  ‘The court heard that McIntosh [the defendant], who had been smoking cannabis, alarmed three strollers on Law Hill with his odd behaviour shortly before the killing.’ (17 Apr 2002)

What do we want?

Our demands are simple:

  • acknowledge that cannabis is a dangerous drug and a prime factor in countless acts of suicide and psychopathic violence, and that no amount of ‘regulation’ will eliminate this danger;
  • acknowledge that the alleged medicinal benefits of particular aspects of cannabis are a red herring to soften attitudes to the pleasure drug and ensure that certain corporations are well placed if and when the pleasure drug is legalised;
  • admit that since around 1973 cannabis has been decriminalised in all but name, and that this has been a grave mistake;
  • begin punishing possession: a caution for a first offence, a mandatory six-month prison sentence and £1000 fine thereafter.

Woman killed by taxi driver ‘might be alive if he had been properly managed’

Shropshire Star | 19 Mar 2018 |

“From the limited evidence which was available to the independent investigation team, it appears possible that, if MB had been fully compliant with anti-psychotic medication and had refrained from misuse of cannabis, then he may not have suffered from a relapse of his psychotic illness.”

Martin Bell had been sectioned for about nine months in August 1999 and was released around six weeks before he killed Gemma Simpson.

The family of a woman who was killed and partially dismembered by a taxi driver who was suffering from a psychotic illness have said she “might still be alive today” if he had been managed properly.

Gemma Simpson’s family were responding to the publication of a report into the treatment of Martin Bell, who killed 23-year-old Miss Simpson in 2000 with a hammer and a knife before sawing her legs off and burying her at a beauty spot near Harrogate, in North Yorkshire.

Bell admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility after leading police to her body 14 years later, and was told he must serve a minimum of 12 years in prison.

Bell had been sectioned in a hospital for about nine months in August 1999 and was released around six weeks before he killed Miss Simpson.

On Monday, NHS England published an independent report into his care and treatment.

The report, which said its authors were severely hampered by a lack of medical records, concluded: “From the limited evidence which was available to the independent investigation team, it appears possible that, if MB had been fully compliant with anti-psychotic medication and had refrained from misuse of cannabis, then he may not have suffered from a relapse of his psychotic illness.

“In these circumstances, the death of Gemma Simpson might have been prevented.”

The new report confirmed that doctors had considered Bell’s cannabis use may have contributed to or exacerbated Bell’s illness and he had smoked the drug on the day he killed Miss Simpson in his Harrogate flat.

But it said that “notwithstanding the failures in service provision outlined in this report, there were no actions that clinicians could have specifically taken to enforce the continuation of medication given MB’s presentation in May 2000, nor to enforce his abstinence from cannabis.”

In a statement issued by the campaign group Hundred Families, Miss Simpson’s family said they broadly welcomed the findings of the report but added: “In 2000 Martin Bell was known to carry a knife, was delusional, and recognised as a real risk to others, yet he was able to be released without any effective package of care, monitoring, or even a proper assessment of how the risks he posed to others would be managed.

“There appear to have been lots of red flags, just weeks and days before Gemma’s death, that should have raised professional concerns.

“We believe that if he had been managed properly, Gemma might still be alive today.”

The family said they understood the pressures on mental health services but said: “We keep hearing that lessons have been learned, but we want to make sure they are truly learned in this case.”

In court in 2013, prosecutors said Bell struck Miss Simpson, who was from Leeds, an “uncountable” number of times with the knife and hammer in a “frenzied” attack before leaving her body for four days in a bath.

He then sawed off the bottom of her legs so she would fit in the boot of a hire car before burying her at Brimham Rocks, near Harrogate.

Bell, who was 30 at the time of the attack, handed himself in at Scarborough police station in 2013 and later took police to where she was buried.

https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/uk-news/2018/03/19/woman-killed-by-taxi-driver-might-be-alive-if-he-had-been-properly-managed/

NHS England report: https://www.england.nhs.uk/north/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2018/03/independent-investigation-mb-march-18.pdf

British media abnormally incurious about the role of cannabis in a gruesome act of uxoricide

On 14 May 2017, Akshar Ali, acting with his friend Yasmin Ahmed, murdered his wife and mother-of-four Sinead Wooding, stabbing her with a knife six times and bludgeoning her with a hammer before dumping her body in a woodland and setting it alight. On 17 January 2018, he and his accomplice were sentenced to 22 years in prison.

One might think the fact that the guilty pair smoked and grew cannabis together would be of interest to reporters, and worthy of at least a fleeting sentence or two, but I have found it mentioned in only two news reports, one in the Yorkshire Evening Post, the other in South African news site IOL.

Of far more interest to some British media, sadly, is the fact that Ali was an ostensible Muslim and Ms Wooding a Muslim convert who had, in the weeks before she was murdered, defied her husband by wearing western clothing and seeing a friend he did not approve of. Some media, including the BBC, the Guardian and, curiously, the Sun managed to avoid mentioning either the matter of Islam or the smoking of cannabis.

Is it, I wonder, an abnormal lack of curiosity that prevents reporters from mentioning the smoking of a powerful psychoactive drug that is a prime factor in countless thousands of similar cases? Or is it a deliberate omission?

An extraordinary murder in Ireland

The following story from Ireland, which occurred ten years ago, is extraordinary for two reasons. First, the 143 injuries the attacker inflicted is, as far as I’m aware, a record. As I have noted many times, a frenzy of violence involving multiple stab wounds is nearly always a sign of a mind unhinged by drugs. 143, though, points to a frightening level of madness, and, as such, the verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity is unsurprising.

But then there is this:

The jury had deliberated for under one hour and had returned during that hour to ask if the fact that Mr Connors had smoked cannabis before the killing was relevant to his culpability.

Mr Justice Birmingham told the jury that consultant psychiatrist, Dr Damien Mohan, had considered whether Mr Connors’ behaviour was attributable to drugs or mental illness and was of the “firm and clear” view that the accused’s mental disorder was the causative factor.

In other words, the fact that the defendant had smoked cannabis before the killing, which occurred around six o’clock in the morning, was not deemed relevant, and the link between the his mental disorder and his consumption of cannabis appears to have gone unexplored.

Man found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity

Irish Examiner
4 Feb 2009

A jury has found a Dublin man who killed a stranger with garden shears not guilty of murder by reason of insanity at the Central Criminal Court.

Thomas Connors (aged 25) thought Michael Hughes (aged 30), from Banagher in Offaly, was the embodiment of the devil when he found him sleeping in the stairwell of an apartment block.

Mr Justice George Birmingham told the jury that it had reached “absolutely the right verdict in accordance with the expert evidence”. He thanked it for its careful attention to the case and exempted its members from jury service for seven years.

Mr Connors, of Manor Court, Mount Argos, Harold’s Cross, killed Mr Hughes in a savage attack in the stairwell of an adjacent apartment block, Manor Villa, on the morning of December 15, 2007.

Mr Justice Birmingham said this was a case of “mind boggling sadness” and, were it not for the issue of insanity, would have been a perfectly clear and appalling case of murder.

He said: “Consequent on the special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity I direct that Mr Connors be committed to a specially designated centre, the Central Mental Hospital, until further order.”

Prosecuting counsel, Paul O’Higgins SC, said Mr Hughes’ family were aware that victim impact evidence would not be heard because the case did not involve the imposition of a sentence.

Mr Justice Birmingham said to the family: “You truly have been through the most appalling experience. Words can’t and don’t describe it and all I can do is express my sympathy.”

The jury had deliberated for under one hour and had returned during that hour to ask if the fact that Mr Connors had smoked cannabis before the killing was relevant to his culpability.

Mr Justice Birmingham told the jury that consultant psychiatrist, Dr Damien Mohan, had considered whether Mr Connors’ behaviour was attributable to drugs or mental illness and was of the “firm and clear” view that the accused’s mental disorder was the causative factor.

Yesterday, the jury heard that Mr Hughes had gone out for a night in Dublin with his cousin and friends. He was to stay at his cousin’s flat in Harold’s Cross but the cousin had gone home early and Mr Hughes was unable to get into the flat when he returned after 4am.

Mr Hughes decided to sleep in the stairwell and sometime after 6am Mr Connors came crashing through the glass doors of the apartment block with garden shears and savagely attacked him, inflicting 143 injuries.

Residents heard screaming and rang gardaí who found Mr Connors walking away from the scene with the shears. He told gardaí that he had fought with the devil and the devil was gone now.

In the days leading up to the killing Mr Connors, a married man with one child, had gone to hospital three times seeking help. He was hearing voices and suffering delusions that his wife was the daughter of the devil. On the second visit he was given tablets. His wife was so frightened by his behaviour that she took their child to a women’s shelter.

On the third occasion, the day before the killing, doctors at Saint Vincent’s Hospital decided Mr Connors should be admitted to Saint James’ but he absconded during the four-hour wait for an ambulance.

In the hours before he killed Mr Hughes, Mr Connors thought the devil was in his apartment and had taken a duvet outside and stabbed it, believing the devil had been hiding in it.

Dr Mohan told the jury that Mr Connors suffered from schizophrenia, as did his father. He had been hospitalised with psychosis in 2004 and 2005 and believed that his father-in-law was the devil.

The victim’s father, Liam Hughes, made a statement outside the Four Courts on behalf of the Hughes family. He said that the family’s thoughts, as always but especially today, were on the 30 years of “love, kindness and generosity of spirit they enjoyed with the deceased”.

Mr Hughes said his son would be remembered by his friends as “a respectful and decent person”. He said a former teacher had contacted the family to pay tribute to Michael as “an honest, kind, sincere, popular and respected person who was a credit to his family and school”.

Mr Hughes said Michael had been a hard-working young man who commuted from Offaly to Dublin each day to work and had recently entered into further education. Mr Hughes said his son had coped admirably with the demands of full-time work and part-time study.

On October 27, 2007, he had become engaged to Deborah Lynch, who was with the family in court. Mr Hughes said his family had shared in their joy at setting up a home together and planning for their future.

He said: “Only seven short weeks later Deborah’s hopes and dreams were shattered.”

He said the Hughes family earnestly hoped that she would find happiness in the future.

Mr Hughes thanked UCD, which had honoured Michael recently on what would have been his conferring day, and his employer, Dublin Bus. He also thanked the team who investigated his son’s death, the Garda family liaison officer and the many friends who had offered comforting words.

He said it had been 13 months since the killing but the pain and horror of it had “scarcely lessened”. He said the natural “role reversal” in the cycle of life could not now happen as he had lost his son.

He said the family was disturbed and saddened by the evidence given in court, but there relieved that the process was over. He asked that the family’s privacy be respected at this time.

https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/man-found-not-guilty-of-murder-by-reason-of-insanity-397642.html

Jail for man who shot girlfriend 13 times with airgun – before trying to strangle and suffocate her

Leicester Mercury | 27 July 2017 |

Kristian Pole had been smoking cannabis when he ‘flipped out’ and attacked his partner at his home in Leicester

A man who failed to take a chance given by a judge, following an airgun attack on a girlfriend, has been jailed for two years.

Kristian Pole repeatedly fired pellets at close range into his then girlfriend’s face, limbs and body. Then he tried to strangle her and suffocate her with a pillow, Leicester Crown Court was told.

The frightened woman managed to run from Pole’s home in Leicester and alert the police, having suffered bruising and red marks from 13 plastic pellets and being gripped around her neck, in August last year.

Judge Robert Brown gave Pole a chance, in June, by imposing a two-year community order, with rehabilitation requirements, because he had already served several months on remand in custody.

Pole later failed to inform the probation service he had moved address – a condition of the order. He also refused to tell them where he was living with a new partner. This resulted in him being brought back to court, where Judge Brown re-sentenced him on Tuesday.

The judge told 24-year-old Pole, of no known address: “I’ve no choice but to revoke the order and impose custody. You’ve thrown away the chance of a community order by your own actions. When I sentenced you in June, for possessing a BB gun with intent to cause fear of violence and causing actual bodily harm, you’d already served eight or nine months in custody.”

He told Pole, who admitted the offences: “You’d done well on remand and changed your attitude. I was invited to take a chance on you and put you on a community order.

“You’ve failed to engage with the probation service and moved out of your mother’s address, without notifying those concerned about where you were living. This was a serious example of an assault.”

Lynsey Knott, prosecuting, said the assault with the BB gun happened when Pole’s then girlfriend visited his home, where he was smoking cannabis with a male friend.

When the cannabis ran out he erupted in violence, attacking her and shooting “at close range” her face and limbs.

James Varley, mitigating, said: “He’d smoked too much cannabis and flipped out.

“Your Honour will have told many defendants it’s not the harmless drug that many young people think it is.

“It has deleterious effects … what else could explain his conduct other than he was completely out of it when his cannabis supply was cut off.”

https://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/leicester-news/jail-man-who-shot-girlfriend-243489

Couple killed friend, set him on fire and then had sex to celebrate, court told

ITV News | 16 Feb 2019 |

Cold-hearted killers who brutally murdered a vulnerable friend before setting him on fire and then having sex will spend at least 28 years in jail

Evil William Vaill and Deborah Andrews were handed life sentences for killing Skelmersdale dad Eamon Brady in a “brutal and sustained” attack.

Mr Brady was hit in the head with a hammer at least 17 times and repeatedly stabbed and slashed in the neck and body in the early hours of July 21.

Vaill, 37, and Andrews, 44, then wrapped his body in bedding and set it on fire before stealing a PlayStation 4, sound bar, DVD player and bank card belonging to their victim.

Andrews later described the couple as “the new Bonnie and Clyde”.

After the callous killing, the pair went to Beacon Country Park where they burned clothing and hid the weapons. They are also believed to have had sex in a nearby park hours after the attack, the court heard.

They also went on to attempt to sell his PlayStation 4 and use the stolen bank card in a local shop.

The evil couple, who had been friends with Mr Brady for several years, bumped into him by chance after Vaill had attended a funeral. They went back to his flat in Elmridge, Skelmersdale, where they drank and smoked cannabis.

By the time of the murder, Vaill, whose previous convictions include arson and criminal damage, had been drinking for 40 straight hours.

The pair left the flat at around around 4:50am and later told police that Mr Brady was alive and well when they left. But recordings in the police van heard that Andrews was ‘buzzing’ about the murder and describing the pair as the new Bonnie and Clyde.

Vaill, of Evington, Skelmersdale, pleaded guilty to murder and arson last month and was today given a life sentence with a minimum of 28-and-a-half years in prison.

Andrews, of Elmstead, Skelmersdale, was found guilty after a trial and given a life sentence with a minimum of 28 years in prison.

Both appeared emotionless throughout the sentencing at Preston Crown Court while Andrews sat with her hands in her pockets throughout.

Prosecuting, Francis McEntree said Mr Brady was a vulnerable man who was regularly taken advantage of by those around him. He had earlier told family that he wanted to move out of Skelmersdale to escape from people who were ‘leeching off him’.

He knew both of the victims well, having been friends for several years and they had all spent the together socially in a “happy, if noisy” manner.

Mr Brady had been friends with Vaill since their teenage years and an earlier incident in which Vaill stabbed him in the foot with a penknife was considered no more than horseplay after Mr Brady had laughed at him getting hurt when he kicked a lamppost.

An emotional victim statement read on behalf of Mr Brady’s daughter Amy Brady told of the devastating effects she has suffered since the murder of her best friend.

Her father’s death came 17 days short of the second anniversary of her brother Ryan’s death and that after seeing his battered and burnt body, Ms Brady now regularly suffers nightmare and is left “angry with the world”.

“There was a hole in my heart when my brother died that has been made bigger and will never be filled,” it stated.

“My dad was not only my dad, he was my entire being.”

Defending Vaill, Stuart Denney said he had begun cannabis and alcohol use since before he was a teenager and that Skelmersdale was “the worst place in the world for him”.

Michael Lavery, defending Andrews, said she had “limited capabilities and intelligence” and was previously of good character.

Sentencing the pair, Judge Mark Brown said: “Having killed him you set fire to his body to destroy evidence of what had happened and in doing so you committed arson with reckless disregard for the lives of the other residents in the building who were asleep at the time.

“It’s another matter of this case that having just murdered this a man in extremely violent and brutal circumstances that you had sex with each other soon after.”

https://www.itv.com/news/granada/2019-02-16/couple-killed-friend-set-him-on-fire-and-then-had-sex-to-celebrate-court-told/

Teenager found guilty of fatal stabbing of Luke Howard

Liverpool Echo | 22 Jan 2009 |

A LIVERPOOL teenager has been found guilty of killing a friend he stabbed 12 times in a drunk and drug-fuelled rage.

A jury at Liverpool Crown Court found Charlijo Calvert, 15, not guilty of the murder of 16-year-old Luke Howard but unanimously convicted him of manslaughter.

Calvert, of Ronald Street, Old Swan, stabbed Luke, from Dovecot, in the early hours of August 30 at the house of a friend in Ashcombe Road, Knotty Ash.

During the week-long trial, the court heard a group of teenage boys, including the victim and defendant, had gone to the house and drank alcohol, smoked cannabis and snorted cocaine.

Throughout the night, and into the early hours, witnesses said they saw Luke prodding Calvert with a screwdriver and the pair “winding each other up”. At one point, the court heard, they threatened to stab each other but the fatal attack at around 7am.

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/teenager-found-guilty-fatal-stabbing-3462600

Four ‘racist’ killings, two years apart, with one important commonality

  1. Skunk addicted schizophrenic fulfils sick fantasy by killing a black woman:  ‘Psychiatric reports stated that Maxwell was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and his abnormality was so great that it affected his judgment [sic].The reports also said his condition was exacerbated by the heavy use of skunk.’ (3 Apr 2007)
  2. Drive caught in gang’s ‘revenge’: ‘The 41-year-old minibus taxi driver was dragged screaming from his cab and beaten to death in July by several white teenagers in Huddersfield… Some of the teenagers had been drinking and smoking cannabis with some girls, who they then persuaded to call up and order the minibus – with fatal consequences.’ (26 Jan 2007)
  3. Racist thugs face 30 years in prison for axe murder: ‘The two men who murdered black teenager Anthony Walker were last night each facing up to 30 years in jail after the trial judge ruled the killing was racially motivated, effectively doubling the time they will serve… Anthony Walker wanted to be a lawyer, maybe a judge. He loved God, worked hard at his studies, practised his basketball skills whenever he could, though not on a Sunday if it clashed with church. Paul Taylor and Michael Barton revelled in the nicknames Chomper and Ozzy. One wanted to be a burglar, the other wanted to join the army, but was too stupid to pass the exams. They spent their time hanging around, smoking cannabis and, in the words of one, “going out robbing”.’ (1 Dec 2005)
  4. Asian gang kicked man to death: ‘Three Asian men who kicked a white computer expert to death and bragged: “That will teach an Englishman to interfere in Paki business” were found guilty of murder at the Old Bailey yesterday… The court heard that the three had been drinking all evening in the West End before returning to east London to drink vodka and smoke cannabis.’ (23 Nov 2005)

You know, of course, what the important commonality is, a much more important factor than apparent ‘racism’. I will note here only, as the article does not, that the ‘skunk addicted schizophrenic’ who deliberately targeted a black woman is himself black.

Jessica McCagh’s killer gets 21 years under tougher sentencing rule

Scotsman | 5 Jan 2010 |

A YOUTH who murdered his girlfriend by soaking her in petrol and then setting her alight was ordered yesterday to serve at least 21 years’ detention, in one of the first tests of Scotland’s new, tougher sentencing regime for killers…

Jessica and Blackburn had been in a relationship for some time, but, on the night of her death in April last year, she had told friends at a party she was leaving him.

On their way home to his flat in Arbroath, Blackburn – described as being “legless” through drink – pushed her into a hedge and punched her.

The row continued in the flat, and Blackburn claimed petrol had spilled on to Jessica and was ignited by a burning flake from a cannabis joint. The petrol had been in the flat because he had been repairing a motorbike and had drained the fuel tank, he claimed.

However, the jury at Blackburn’s trial last month rejected his version, which would have allowed him to be convicted of the lesser crime of culpable homicide and to have received a lighter sentence. He was convicted of murder, by deliberately dousing her and a bed with petrol and setting them alight.

Lord Bracadale told Blackburn that a sentence of detention for life was mandatory for murder. Also, the judge had to set the minimum term which Blackburn would have to serve before he could be considered for parole.

Lord Bracadale said Blackburn had threatened on an earlier occasion to use petrol to torch the home of Jessica’s parents while she was staying there. During the preparation of background sentencing reports, Blackburn also admitted that, aged 13, he threw a petrol bomb at a house because of a fall-out with the occupant.

He had a previous conviction for assault since becoming an adult, and a history of violence as a child.

“The evidence disclosed that there were three stages in the murder of Jessica McCagh,” said Lord Bracadale. “First, you threw petrol over her. Then you set fire to her. The expert evidence made it clear that that was a more difficult thing to do than many of us would have thought, and must have involved holding a naked flame at her or the bedclothes in order to set her alight.

“Once she was a alight, you did something of quite extraordinary cruelty – you held the door of the bedroom shut to prevent her escape. Jessica McCagh was your girlfriend, aged 17 years, and she died a terrible death at your hands.”

The judge said the crime’s level of wickedness had to mean a long minimum term, which he set at 21 years.

The jury had heard that Blackburn fled the flat, shouting: “Jessica’s dead.” He went to her parents’ home and repeated to them that she was dead. His neighbour, Mr Foreman, tried to save Jessica and threw water from a fishtank over her but the flames kept reigniting.

He got her out of the flat as her father arrived on the scene. She had suffered fourth-degree burns which affected more than 85 per cent of her body.

Jessica died in hospital later that day. More than 400 people attended her funeral.

An angry mob of about 200 gathered outside Arbroath Sheriff Court when Blackburn was due to make his first appearance on the murder charge. The hearing was moved to a police station. The prosecutor at Blackburn’s trial, Frank Mulholland, QC, the solicitor-general, said of the murder: “It is difficult to envisage more cruel or sadistic treatment of another human being.”

Blackburn was from Dundee and spent much of his childhood in foster care. He subsequently moved to a small flat in Arbroath and often smoked cannabis there with other teenagers.

He has previous convictions for housebreaking and assaulting Jessica’s father.

Jessica – the youngest of five daughters – had gone out with Blackburn since she was 15.

https://www.scotsman.com/news/jessica-mccagh-s-killer-gets-21-years-under-tougher-sentencing-rule-1-784959

 

‘Cannabis made my boy a killer’

THE mother of a violent schizophrenic who stabbed his best friend to death last night described how her son’s long-term cannabis habit turned him into a monster.

Julie Morgan, formerly from Cardiff, claimed her 20-year-old son Richard Harris’ ‘kind and gentle’ side disappeared not long after he started smoking cannabis from the age of 14.

“Cannabis took my son from me, I have no problem saying that,” said the 45-year-old.

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/cannabis-made-boy-killer-2229963

Carl Madigan knifed Sam Cook in heart two weeks after friend slashed man’s stomach open

Facebook accounts show Carl Madigan, 23, and Shaun Bethell, 19, hanging around together and smoking cannabis before the shocking offences which will now define their young lives.

In a dreadful two week period last October, Madigan killed tragic Sam Cook while Bethell, a teenager with a record to rival any career criminal’s, left a man’s bowel hanging out of his body.

Carl Madigan, 23, who was jailed for Sam Cook's murder, and Shaun Bethell, 19, who stabbed builder Tony Turpin
Carl Madigan, 23, who was jailed for Sam Cook’s murder, and Shaun Bethell, 19, who stabbed builder Tony Turpin (Image: Facebook)

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/carl-madigan-knifed-sam-cook-14790393