Church-going cannabis user who strangled his grandmother and drowned his aunt is jailed for life

drug user who strangled his grandmother and drowned his aunt in a bath in a “savage and brutal” double-killing has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years.

Christopher Whelan, 21, armed himself with an axe and a pen knife during the killing of Julie Hill, 51, and 75-year-old Rose Hill after cannabis use “exacerbated” his violent thoughts linked to an obsessional disorder.

Nottingham Crown Court was told Whelan, who admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, heard the voice of “Satan” directing him as he killed the victims at his aunt’s home in Shirebrook, Derbyshire.

Passing sentence on Whelan, of Crosspool, Sheffield, High Court judge Mrs Justice Carr said the last minutes of both victims’ lives must have been “terrifying, bewildering and agonising”.

The judge told Whelan: “This was very serious offending involving the brutal death of two innocent women.

“They died in the most horrific of circumstances at the hands of a grandson or a nephew. I have no hesitation in concluding that you pose a significant risk to members of the public of serious harm.

“Both consultant forensic psychiatrists (acting for the prosecution and the defence) confirm that you remain an unpredictable and dangerous person, continuing to suffer from violent urges.

“I am fully satisfied that the seriousness of these offences is such as to justify the imposition of a sentence of imprisonment for life.”

Whelan, a former Matalan worker, began using cannabis aged 16 and was said by a relative to have been in an “emotional and tearful” state on the night before the killings on February 25 this year.

The court heard on Friday how the younger victim’s 22-year-old son, Liam Parker, took his own life in April after finding his mother’s body.

The court was also told that a bloodstained axe was found near the body of Rose Hill, who lived in Sheffield but was visiting her daughter, having arrived in Shirebrook a couple of minutes after her grandson.

Post-mortem examinations found Rose had been strangled, while her daughter, who had wounds to her fingers and chin, had been punched in the face, knocking out one of her teeth, before she was drowned.

After the killings, Whelan was seen in Louth, Boston and King’s Lynn before catching a train to London – where he was arrested two days later after ringing the police from a decorating store.

The churchgoer, said to have had a “fundamentalist” Christian upbringing, informed a call-handler: “I have done something really bad, a murder. It’s my auntie and my nan. I have messed up, I need to serve the punishment.”

Whelan, who appeared in the dock wearing a dark blue suit, is believed to have started using cannabis aged 16, smoking around an ounce of the drug each week.

Jailing the double-killer, Mrs Justice Carr accepted evidence that he had taken £100 and a bank cards from his aunt’s purse after killing her, and had moved a dining room chair into the cellar before severing an artery in his grandmother’s wrist.

“I am sure that you inflicted significant physical suffering on both of them,” the judge told Whelan. “You also inflicted mental suffering, at least on Rose, with the use of an axe as a threat.

“These were savage and brutal attacks even before the killings.”

Addressing the defendant’s mental state, the judge added: “There is no suggestion that your ability to understand the nature of your own conduct was in any way impaired.

“You knew what you were doing and that it was wrong, even if your ability to form rational judgment or to resist you violent urges was mentally impaired.

“Your violent urges were exacerbated, as you knew, by your long-standing use of cannabis. Even if cannabis did not play any direct part in your offending at the time of the attacks, you smoking of cannabis was one of the triggers for the killings.”

Belfast schizophrenic jailed for killing friend in knife frenzy

A paranoid schizophrenic who killed his friend after breaking into his house and pursuing him with two knives will serve at least six years’ prison for the “truly horrific attack”.

Sentencing Ahmed Noor at Belfast Crown Court yesterday, Madam Justice McBride said the fatal stabbing on the city’s Botanic Avenue last January was brutal, unprovoked and sustained.

After attacking his friend Mohsin Bhatti – a 29-year-old asylum seeker originally from Pakistan, Noor told police he had “killed the king” and also claimed to be “Allah’s assassin.

The defendant denied murder and possessing two offensive weapons, but pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Madam Justice McBride described Mr Bhatti as vulnerable and said he was a “quiet, gentle, hospitable and friendly man who got on well with others”.

Mr Bhatti called 999 from his mobile phone at 5am on January 29 last year and asked for police before screaming.

He was stabbed multiple times and suffered injuries including a wound to the chest that penetrated his heart, six knife wounds to his back and five to his neck – one of which went through his jugular vein.

The court heard that Noor had been smoking cannabis for several hours on the day of the attack, and that voices his head had told him to attack his friend.

The defendant then armed himself with two kitchen knives, before breaking into the victim’s house by smashing a window with a fire extinguisher.

Once inside, the two men struggled, before Mr Bhatti fled, chased by Noor, who is originally from Somalia but was living in Agincourt Avenue at the time.

After the fatal attack, he told police it was “the happiest day of his life” and said that he was going to rule the world.

Madam Justice McBridge said the frenzied attack had a massive impact on Mr Bhatti’s mother and father, who still live in Pakistan, and his sister, who lives in England.

She added that the killing had resulted in profound anguish and trauma for the victim’s relatives, speaking of the “far-reaching consequences for the family of this unprovoked and brutal killing of their vulnerable son and brother”.

Madam Justice McBride said that while she accepted that Noor was psychologically unwell at the time of the killing, he was also intoxicated through his cannabis use.

Telling the court that she deemed the defendant to pose a risk to the general public, the judge stressed that Noor’s prolific drug use had aggravated his underlying problems.

Madam Justice McBride also spoke of Noor’s lack of insight into the crime he had committed, his failure to comply with treatment programmes offered to him and his expressions of joy in the aftermath of the brutal killing of Mr Bhatti.

She additionally branded the killing a “truly horrific, unprovoked, violent and sustained attack.”

Noor was handed an indeterminate custodial sentence and was told that he would have to serve a minimum of six years’ detention before being considered eligible for release.

Woman played dead to survive horrifying three hour torture ordeal

A Coleraine man hanged himself last January after stabbing and beating his partner for three hours in what coroner John Lecky yesterday described as “most horrifying account” he had ever heard.

The inquest into the suicide of William Martin Hasson (41) heard that he attacked Ruth McGrath with two knives — slicing her liver and bowel — as their terrified seven-year-old daughter listened in the next room.

The clerk of Coleraine Coroner’s Court broke down in tears after delivering the harrowing depositions related to the case.

Mother-of-three Ms McGrath said she only escaped with her life because she pretended to be dead.

She told the court that her 10-year relationship with the deceased, who had broken her nose previously, had “deteriorated” and that he was only living in their home at Glenwood Avenue in the town for the sake of their daughter Kyla.

She described him as “possessive” and “depressive” and that she believed he had been abusive to other partners in the past but that she “defended herself”. Ms McGrath said she had gone to bed in the early hours of January 10 in 2009 as kitchen fitter Hasson drank cider and smoked cannabis. She woke to the bedroom door being opened and the light coming on.

Then came a horrifying three-hour ordeal in which she was stabbed with a kitchen knife and a decorative blade, punched, kicked, had a pillow placed over her face and had her head slammed off furniture.

In between it all, Hasson stopped to smoke cigarettes and went to talk to his daughter in the next room.

He also texted her friend, blaming her for the attack, and went through Ms McGrath’s text messages as she slipped in and out of consciousness and pleaded “let me die with dignity”.

She added: “He told me that none of us was getting out of the bedroom alive he told me he had been planning it. He said he wasn’t doing time for me.”

During one pause in the attack when Hasson lay on the bed and comforted her, Ms McGrath asked: “How can you say you love me when you are trying to take me away from Kyla?”

She described how, towards the end of the attack, she was bringing up blood and saw Hasson standing over her with a rope around his neck.

“He was going to kill me, then himself. I thought the only way I was going to survive was to pretend I was dying or dead. I could see him standing over me, I was afraid to move.

“When I opened my eyes, I saw Willie hanging.”

Ms McGrath said she then took a barricade off the door and went to sit on the sofa and rang police.

The brave mum was in the Causeway Hospital for four weeks before being transferred to the Mater in Belfast. Her bowel and liver were pierced and her gall bladder was removed.

Police witnesses described arriving at the house at 4.40am to find Ms McGrath wrapped in a stained duvet and Hasson hanging from a hatch in the bedroom, above a bed splattered with blood.

John Lecky told the court: “In all my time as coroner, this is the most horrifying account I have ever heard. It’s what you expect from a video nasty — this is real life.”

He praised the emergency services for their dealings with the case and said it “must be one of the worst incidences of domestic violence in Northern Ireland”.

He ruled that Hasson, described as “mildly intoxicated”, had died by his own act while the balance of his mind was disturbed.

He said that Hasson — who police say was not known to them on any domestic violence matters — had intended to kill his partner and then himself.

Mr Lecky also passed his best wishes on to Kyla and her mother for their continuing recovery, adding: “I can’t help but think that if (Ms McGrath) had not found her way downstairs, she may not be here today.”

‘I never thought he’d go this far; he was a coward’

Ruth McGrath, who played dead to escape her violent partner, has told how she is trying to rebuild her life.

She described William Martin Hasson as “a coward” but maintains that despite her injuries and trauma her life must go on.

She said she never thought the man she met at a Christmas party a decade ago would ever go so far as to try to kill her.

Ruth, who also has sons aged 21 and 23, said both her and her daughter have received extensive counselling following their ordeal.

“I did not know at the time but she heard everything, she was aware and he went in to her to tell her to lie there and be quiet,” she said.

“She misses him, she loves him, he was her daddy, it is very confusing for her. She goes through different stages.

“I wonder how the wee girl gets on with it, she is a normal eight-year-old girl.

“She sees his family and it is up to her. After what happened, I want her to have as normal a life as possible.”

Addressing women — or men — who may find themselves in a similar situation, she said: “I kept him in the house because it was Christmas, I was being nice. My attitude now would be — get him out.

“He had planned it, it was pre-meditated, it wasn’t spontaneous. I never thought he would go this far. He was a coward, that’s why he attacked me in the bed, I wasn’t scared of him. He didn’t attack me for years but he was violent with other women. He was only there for my child.

“There were a few occasions when I thought he was going to finish me off, he said “I’m not going to jail for you”.

She added: “I’ve as full a life as I can have and I will lead my life the way I want to. I have internal problems but I won’t let them stop me.

“I hope to get back to work, and be a good mum to my children.”

Aaron McGrath (21) who was living in the house at the time of the attack and was woken at a friend’s house by police responding to his mother’s distress call, said that seeing what Hasson had done to his mother was “pure hell” but added: “We just want to get back to normal.”

Rapist jailed

A rapist who stalked a girl of 15 before dragging her into bushes was today behind bars.

David Irving, 27, whose partner was pregnant at the time of the rape, was jailed for 10 years and put on the sex offender register for life following the terrifying attack.

His victim, described as a model schoolgirl, had been with her boyfriend but was alone as she headed down Station Road, Wallsend, North Tyneside, a jury at Newcastle Crown Court was told.

She heard footsteps behind her as she passed the town’s Buddle Arts Centre.

And moments later Irving struck as she moved onto a footpath behind Wallsend Ex-Servicemen’s Social Club.

The court heard how Irving, who had been on a five-hour booze binge, stifled the terrified girl’s screams with his hand and told her he had a knife.

He forced her sobbing onto the muddy ground and repeatedly raped and molested her. She was also ordered to perform a sex act.

Staff at the club called police after the traumatised girl, covered in mud, ran in to beg for help.

Police arrested Irving at his home in Woodside Avenue, Walker, Newcastle, just hours later.

Investigating officer Det Con Chris Forster today welcomed the sentence and said: “I’m pleased with the sentence. It’s totally justified by the nature of this attack.

“It was a prolonged attack of about 15 to 20 minutes.

“This girl is a model schoolgirl and she and her family have been absolutely traumatised.

“She has shown great courage, going on to sit her GCSEs.

“But she and her family are still having counselling. This incident has shocked the community.”

Irving had been rowing with his girlfriend, who was three months pregnant at the time.

He had been out drinking and smoking cannabis since about 1pm on the day of the attack.

Irving, who denied rape but was convicted by a majority jury vote, claimed he had bumped into the girl and that she had asked him for cannabis.

He had downed up to eight points of lager and said his victim agreed to go with him into bushes and had been a willing partner for sex.

But the evidence of a passing taxi driver nailed his lies.

The driver told the court how Irving ignored him when he tooted to offer him a lift and seemed to be in a world of his own.

Det Con Forster said: “It was mainly through the taxi driver that we were able to arrest Irving just two or three hours after the offence.

“It helped the case that so many people came forward and came forward quickly. That led to us tracking Irving down.”

Jailing him, Judge John Milford said the 10-year sentence was based on the facts that the girl had been just 15, that Irving had threatened violence and that he abducted her and had sex with her three times.

Karen Leonard murder: Killer’s chilling warning before violent murder

Michael Heighton issued a plea for help before brutally murdering his girlfriend, Karen Leonard, in 2009, according to a shock report.

July 1987: Michael Heighton breaks into his estranged wife’s house and threatens to kill her with two carving knives. She falls backwards out of the bedroom window sustaining head injuries.

June 1991: The 49-year-old kicks and punches a fellow patient at Middlesbrough’s Hutton Centre after she tried to end their relationship. A sharpened piece of metal is later found under a towel in his room.

November 1999: Heighton is arrested following a domestic dispute in which he threatened his partner’s daughter with a carving knife and slapped her in the face.

In a police cell he is physically and verbally violent, “howling like an animal and smearing faeces”. Police were required to enter his cell with shields in order to try to control the situation.

September 2000: He attacks his girlfriend of seven weeks and threatens to burn her eyes out with cigarettes and kill her two children. He is later charged with threats to kill, common assault, battery and affray.

October 2000: A Public Protection meeting is staged where police report nine incidents of domestic violence.

The report states the meeting confirmed he “was potentially dangerous towards any female he formed a relationship with”.

Later in 2005: He admits having issues with his medication and smoking £5 of cannabis a day.

The panel states: “It seemed to the panel that past risks, and future behavioural triggers were largely being ignored by the care team treating [Heighton].”

Man jailed for attack on girl

Groping pervert Gary Gray has been jailed for a terrifying sex attack on a sleeping schoolgirl.

The 30-year-old launched the dead-of-night assault after knocking back Alcopops, taking valium, and smoking cannabis.

Then he slipped into a room where the 13-year-old girl was already asleep, climbed into the bed, and molested her.

The youngster woke to find Gray beside her and had to fight him off before finally fleeing the flat in South Tyneside to get help.

Gray, from Calver Court, South Shields, was found guilty of indecent assault by a Newcastle Crown Court jury last November and remanded in custody while a psychiatric report was prepared.

The report revealed Gray had been suffering from a mental illness for some time.

But Judge Michael Cartlidge said the assault was too serious to pass anything other than a custodial sentence.

Jailing him for three years and ordering him to register as a sex offender, Judge Cartlidge told Gray: “I accept you didn’t set out that evening to get into bed with the girl, but it is a very serious thing to do what you did.”

The attack was the second time Gray had sparked public outrage.

He was convicted of careless driving and perverting justice during 2000 after an accident in South Shields which left dad-of-one Daniel Arnold, 20, dying at the roadside. Mr Arnold’s family and friends gathered a 10,000 name protest petition after Gray, who had left the accident scene and tried to scrap the car, served just three weeks of a two month prison sentence.

Paul Sloan QC, defending, said Gray was an `emotionally vulnerable’ man who had become the victim of a hate campaign and was suffering post traumatic stress disorder.”

Stoned teenager Mark Kane tortured cat

A STONED teenager who trapped a cat in a bag full of cannabis smoke and swung it round like a lasso was caught after he filmed the “sadistic” act on his mobile.

Mark Kane was busted by police when he had his phone seized after he was arrested for a separate offence and officers found the vile footage.

The 19-year-old stole the defenceless young tabby from a friend before trapping it in the bag and blowing cannabis fumes over its head.

He then tied the bag and sniggered as he said: “This cat is getting stoned off its head,” before swinging the terrified animal around his head, a court as told.

Jobless Kane, of St Aidan’s Road, South Shields, had been smoking cannabis from a water pipe with a friend prior to the attack and got his pal to film it. Clive McKeag, prosecuting, told South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court that Kane’s “wicked” act had taken place around January 3 at an address on John William Street, South Shields.

He said: “These acts were totally gratuitous, they were intentional, they were sadistic, and the prosecution say, they were wicked.”

Mr McKeag said Kane, who could face a spell behind bars, had stolen the cat a couple of weeks earlier from a friend of his girlfriend.

“There was no purpose behind it, except for sheer gratuitous violence. Such was the attack it would cause outrage to any decent member of the public.

“The only reason he could have done it was to take pleasure from causing very substantial suffering to this animal. We can see from the video that the defendant did this as a great joke.”

The RSPCA, who became involved in the case after police referred it, said it was not known what happened to the cat as it disappeared and was never returned to its owner.

Tim Gregory, defending, said Kane was ashamed of what he’d done but thought he was doing a responsible job of looking after the animal.

“He is ashamed of himself and his conscious thought was impeded by cannabis.”

The case was adjourned for two weeks for pre-sentence reports after Kane pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering and administering a dangerous drug to an animal.

RSPCA inspector Claire Hunt told the Chronicle: “I have never seen anything that showed such a complete disregard for an animal’s welfare.”

Newbiggin Hall stabbing teen jailed for life for murder of mother’s new boyfriend

High on drink and drugs, a teenager stabbed his mother’s new boyfriend to death because he didn’t like their relationship, a court heard.

Liam Burke has been jailed for life for the murder of Simon Ramel, who he attacked on the street in front of terrified family members and neighbours on the Newbiggin Hall Estate, in Newcastle.

Burke, who was 15 at the time but is now 17, had taken a dislike to Mr Ramel, who was his mother’s new boyfriend, and the pair had argued at his house on Eastgarth on October 24 last year.

A court heard that, having left the home and then been refused entry back in, furious Burke, who had been drinking and smoking cannabis, went to friend Richard Prigmore’s house nearby and armed himself with a kitchen knife.

The teenager then returned to his mum’s house where he began to scuffle with Mr Ramel on the street before pulling out the blade and plunging it at least four times into the 45-year-old.

Gateshead rapist jailed for vile attack on teen

TWISTED Dennis Gray was today behind bars for a vile campaign of abuse against a teenager which ended in rape.

Gray had already beaten his victim black and blue, even attacking her with vacuum parts.

And after subjecting her to a series of violent assaults he ended up raping her.

Now he has been locked up for five years and two months after pleading guilty to rape, assault and threats to kill.

Jailing him at Newcastle Crown Court, Judge Roger Thorn said Gray’s drug abuse had been part of the problem.

Judge Thorn said: “Your heavy abuse of cannabis is a part explanation for your irrational and excessive behaviour.”

Gray first struck in August 2009, pinning his victim down and choking her then punching her in the stomach even though she was pregnant.

He was then convicted of battery in April last year after strangling her, pinning her against a wall and throwing her around. He got a community order for that attack.

His latest offences began in August when Gray again choked her, leaving her with bruising on her neck.

On another occasion he threatened to kill her with a kitchen knife.

The abuse scaled new heights in October after yet another attack.

The victim managed to calm him but he then raped her. The court heard no force was used but he pleaded guilty on the basis he couldn’t have believed she was consenting.

Initially the woman didn’t tell police but then he attacked her again.

The victim’s baby was crying and he told her either she put it in the cot or he would attack her.

Despite her following his orders he still beat her, grabbing her by the hair, slapping her then hitting her with vacuum tools.

After that the victim told her mother, police were contacted and Gray arrested.

As well as the jail term Gray, 25, of Wilberforce Walk, Redheugh, Gateshead, must sign the sex offender register for life and was given a restraining order to keep him away from the victim when he is released.

Carl Gumsley, defending, said: “He accepts he has problems with violence.”

After the case, his victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “This has been a difficult time for my family and me. The sentencing today brings a small amount of closure and I just now want to move on with my life.”

Thug jailed for violent attacks

Dangerman Thomas Masserick has been jailed for seven years and ordered to keep away from the woman he tormented for life.

Masserick was locked up at Newcastle Crown Court for a string of assaults against the mother and her young daughter.

His former lover broke down and wept with relief after the tall, tattooed 27-year-old was sentenced.

The court heard how Masserick had a tragic family background with the deaths of his parents in childhood and then years later his adoptive sister.

But today his victim said this could never excuse the violence he inflicted on her and her four-year-old child.

Speaking exclusively to the Chronicle she said: “He smirked at me when he saw me walk into court for the sentence.

“I told my mother he can’t harm me any more. I’m going to stay strong no matter what he did to intimidate me, even in court. It was only afterwards I started to cry. I’m so grateful to the judge for giving him seven years.”

Masserick, the adopted son of a former prison governor, is banned for life from approaching or harassing the woman after a judge slapped on an indefinite restraining order.

Judge David Hodson said: “You have been charged with one count of harassment, three counts of threatening to kill and five counts of common assault between July 2004 and February 2005. After you had been arrested for these and were on bail, you committed two further offences of witness intimidation.”

He said that he had taken into account what the defence told the court about Masserick’s tragic family background but he could not overlook the many and violent crimes committed by Masserick.

Masserick’s 26-year-old former partner, who the Chronicle is not identifying, said: “The waiting game is over for him. Now he’s out of my life for good.

“I want to look forward to the future, especially for my daughter, when I get my confidence back.

“He won’t rule my life again. My little girl is settled in school and she’s looking forward to Christmas. I want to start afresh in a new home, but I won’t be driven away from the region.”

The mum, from Newcastle’s West End, told the Chronicle how her attraction for the body-builder turned to fear.

In the eight-month relationship, she became trapped in her own home and was locked into vicious spiral of beatings and demands for sex by Masserick.

She said: “During the time I was seeing him I suffered a split lip; I was kicked, punched and sent flying across the floor and I also suffered a burn with an iron when he knocked it over in a rage. He’d beat me up then demand sex. I was so scared of him because he became a control freak who’d lock me in my home.”

Police found Masserick had shot holes in snapshots of the woman and her daughter, obliterating their heads with airgun pellets. The final straw came when the dope-smoking tormentor turned his anger on the youngster. She managed to eventually flee the house with her little girl when Masserick’s mother came to pick him up and take him shopping.

Masserick, from the West End, had denied child cruelty and possession of a prohibited weapon and ammunition, which were left to lie on file.

Prosecuting Robin Patton told the court Masserick was a violent man with a history of violent crime. He said when Masserick moved in with his then partner and four-year-old child last year he started taking testosterone to build himself up at the gym. He tried to counter its effects on his personality with cannabis.

Masserick had pleaded guilty on August 22 to the common assaults and two offences of witness intimidation and threats to kill. The court heard he intended to kill a witness in a letter to a friend of Masserick’s, already in prison.

Mr Patton told the court that in Masserick’s letter he had said he knew someone in Scotland with a cliff outside their back door. He would take the witness up there, kill him in his friend’s kitchen, then take him outside and throw him into the sea.

Defending, Glen Gatland said Masserick suffered in childhood when his mother then his father were killed. His adoptive sister was later killed in a road accident. Reports said this affected his personality and went some way to explaining his actions.

Gemma Finnigan’s killer Daniel Johnson from Boldon jailed for life

Cannabis smoker and murderer at 15, he killed a woman 16 years later while on licence:

A killer who strangled and stabbed his partner because he believed she was possessed by the devil has been given a life sentence – 16 years after killing another innocent person.

Schizophrenic Daniel Johnson will serve a minimum of 20 years in jail after pleading guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility three days into his murder trial.

He met his victim Gemma Finnigan, shortly after being released on licence for the 1996 joint murder of David Younes in North Kenton which he committed when he was just 15, but the true nature of his crime was never revealed to the 24-year-old victim or her family.

After weeks of bizarre behaviour, Johnson, 33, struck at 3.30am on Friday, September 13, last year, strangling and beating his partner until she was unconscious. He then walked to the kitchen and collected three knives which he used to stab her in her back and front 14 times in their flat in Church View, Boldon Colliery, South Tyneside.

Johnson then drove to Kenton School, in Newcastle, where he broke in and was found wandering round stripped to the waist, covered in blood.

The defendant had claimed insanity due to suffering psychotic episodes, but on Thursday when three independent psychiatrists agreed his case instead fell under diminished responsibility due to his mental state at the time, he decided to plead guilty.

He will serve his sentence in a prison rather than Rampton Hospital, Nottinghamshire, where he has been detained since the offence.

A serious case review has now been launched into the death, with the Finnigan family criticising the Probation Service for failing to notify them of Johnson’s earlier conviction.

On November 3, 1996, Johnson and a 17-year-old friend were trying to steal a car in Kenton, Newcastle, when they got involved in a confrontation with passer-by Mr Younes, 32. Johnson struck him over the head with a metal bar while his co-accused repeatedly stabbed him. A year later Johnson was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years for his part, later shortened to 12.

In a statement read to the court, Gemma’s mum Jennifer, who broke down in tears at the conclusion of the hearing, said: “Gemma was a wonderful daughter and special to everyone who same into contact with her.

“She was what I would describe as a ray of sunshine who made everyone around her feel worthwhile. All she ever wanted was to help others and make people happy.

“I feel angry and let down by the Probation Service as they did not tell me or Gemma about his involvement in the first murder. Had Gemma known about this we would never have welcomed him into our home and Gemma would still be here.”

After the sentencing, Gemma’s sister Kristi Allen, 17, added: “20 years is nowhere near enough to make up for what he did to Gemma.”

Meanwhile, consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr James Stoddart, who works at St Nicholas Hospital, Newcastle, told Mr Justice Green that Johnson’s use of drugs like cannabis, which he grew at home, was likely to have exacerbated his psychotic behaviour.

Mr Justice Green, sentencing, told Johnson: “In my view even though your responsibility was diminished you still bear some responsibility.

“You refused to obtain medical assistance. Had you sought help for your condition this terrible tragedy might never have occurred at all.

“This offence was also likely to be drug related and you used extreme violence to obtain knives which were then used upon Gemma, who was utterly defenceless at the time.”

He added: “In my view you pose an extremely serious and potentially lethal threat to society and a threat that is not possible to say will necessarily ever go away.

“You have now committed two acts of extreme violence over a period of 16 years.”

Toby Hedworth QC, mitigating, said his client was full of remorse, having been supported by Gemma and her family after his release from prison.

He said: “He will have to live for the rest of his days with the knowledge that it was he who snuffed out the light of her life.”

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Barron, of Northumbria Police, welcomed the sentence.

He said: “As we have heard during this trial, this means he had a mental illness at the time he killed Gemma.

“Johnson is a violent individual who attempted to argue he was insane at the time of the killing as an excuse for killing Gemma Finnigan.

“It is clear he knew what he was doing and must now accept responsibility for his actions.

“Gemma died in tragic circumstances and our thoughts are with her family at this very difficult time. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for the dignity that they have shown throughout our investigation.

“We worked closely with the CPS throughout the investigation and I’d also like to thank them for their support.”

Facebook child groomer who supplied vulnerable 13-year-old with drugs jailed for four years

Child groomer Jed Milburn has been jailed for four years after supplying a vulnerable 13-year-old with drugs in the hope of sexual favours.

The 27-year-old lied about his age and used a false Facebook profile to target the girl online.

A court heard he repeatedly offered to supply the teenager with cannabis, hoping for something in return.

When she said she would bring her friend, he “agreed enthusiastically” and asked for pictures.

Milburn met the girls in Walker Park and they smoked cannabis, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

Now he has been locked up after he admitted meeting a child following sexual grooming and supplying cannabis, which a judge said was for sexual advantage.

Murder accused admits killing his ‘best mate’ but insists: ‘I was defending myself’

Murder accused Daniel Smith has admitted killing his “best mate” but claimed he was acting in self-defence when he stabbed the man he described as “like a brother” in the chest.

Prosecutors claim the 21-year-old murdered Jonathan Carr at his flat in Gateshead during an evening socialising together.

Giving evidence to jurors at Newcastle Crown Court for the first time, Smith said trouble flared after he accidentally smashed a glass bong belonging to Jonathan.

He claimed Jonathan, also 21, attacked him and he picked up the knife and pushed out with it, fearing for his life.

Asked by his barrister, Jason Pitter QC, if he accepted stabbing and killing Jonathan, he replied: “Yes”.

Mr Pitter asked why he did it and Smith replied: “I was defending myself”.

Smith said alcohol and drugs had affected his memory but that “bits and pieces have been coming back”.

Asked about his relationship with Jonathan, who he knew as Ali, he said: “It was good, he was like a brother. We were like best mates.”

Smith said on July 31, he and his cousin, Steven Morrison, had decided to go to Jonathan’s flat in Deckham, Gateshead.

They drank tequila, rum, Brown Ale and Stella Artois and also smoked cannabis and took some codeine tablets. Smith said at one point they went to meet someone to buy cocaine and then went to a fish and chip shop, where he admitted his behaviour was “disgraceful”.

In December 2018, Smith was found guilty of murdering Jonathan Carr, and sentenced to life in prison.

Our Malcolm can finally rest in peace

“Malcolm died after being arrested for behaviour which was totally out of character – but we never thought the police were responsible for his death.”

Divorced dad Mr Flockton, of Garth 22, Killingworth, collapsed and died after being arrested outside the home of his partner Sandra Stringer’s ex-husband.

She told the jury he had eaten a homemade cannabis biscuit, then gone to her ex’s home to talk to her nine-year-old son, who was staying there. Mr Flockton was naked apart from a fleece jacket and he began shouting and throwing stones at the house. When police were called he was said to have been calm at first.

But he then began to struggle violently with police officers for a period of 30 minutes before being taken to Wallsend Police Station. There he collapsed within minutes of arrival.

Violent North Shields thug jailed for attacks on pal

A VULNERABLE man was killed after being repeatedly attacked by his violent bully friend.

Amendeep Singh Rai befriended then regularly beat victim Kenneth Oakes in the lead up to his death.

The 52-year-old, who suffered from learning difficulties, a severe speech impediment and bad eye sight, was found dead at Rai’s flat on Stanley Street, North Shields.

During the three weeks leading-up to his death, defenceless Mr Oakes, known as Kenny, was subject to at least four brutal attacks at the hands of Rai, 21, which left him with a staggering 43 rib fractures, a broken breast bone, bruises and cuts.

In the final deadly assault, two segments of Mr Oakes’s ribs completely broke off, making it impossible for him to breath.

He collapsed and died on the floor of Rai’s apartment, just a couple of hours after the pair had shared a take-away.

Cannabis addict Rai was yesterday jailed for six years, with three years extended licence, at Newcastle Crown Court after he pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

Dale Cregan

Since I began working on this site in October of last year, I have several times thought that I had discovered every major instance in the last 20 years or so of a cannabis smoker committing violence, only to come upon yet another terrible case.

For example, many weeks after I’d published a hard copy of ‘Attacker Smoked Cannabis’ and posted it to a number of politicians, journalists and activists, somebody pointed me towards the case of Jodi Jones in Scotland, murdered in 2003 by her 15-year-old boyfriend, who, by his own admission, smoked more cannabis in a day than many heavy smokers would consume in a week.

Not long after reading about this case, I read about the murder of Rhys Jones, inadvertently gunned down by a local thug who spent much of his young life smoking cannabis.

Today, during what might be called a routine online search of various local papers, I came upon one Dale Cregan, one of the most notorious murderers of recent times.

As with many such cases, I discovered his appalling criminal record by chance, after reading of the recent conviction of his brother, Dean Moores, who uses a different surname to his biological sibling. Last month, Moores was jailed for five years for stabbing his sister’s ex-boyfriend, and, surprise, surprise, for cultivating cannabis. Needless to say, cannabis also features prominently in Cregan’s litany of psychopathic violence.

A drug and arms dealer from his teens, Cregan is currently serving a whole life prison order for four counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder, all of which occurred in one five-month period of 2012. First, in May, Cregan shot dead the son of a rival drug dealer, and attempted to murder three other men in the same incident. Three months later, he killed the drug dealer himself, by shooting him nine times and throwing a grenade at him, blowing him to pieces.

A month later, he made a bogus 999 call, claiming there had been an incident at his house. Two police officers, Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone, attended the call. Cregan lured them into a trap, shot them each at least eight times, and threw a grenade at them. He then drove to a local police station and confessed his crime. In June the following year, he was sentenced to life in prison.

Many news reports have noted that Cregan dealt cannabis. In addition, two years after his conviction, Cregan was placed in solitary confinement for smuggling a mobile phone and cannabis into his prison cell, and a subsequent drugs test reportedly found traces of cannabis in his urine. Despite all this, however, his consumption of cannabis, though seemingly obvious and relevant, has only been noted by one site, rather inappropriately named ‘The Famous People’.



Drunk thug dad who stunk of weed bit cop during arrest – before telling him he had AIDS

A police officer had to undergo tests for hepatitis and HIV after a thug dad bit him before telling him he had AIDS.

Sean Fiddaman, 31, has been jailed for 12 months after he was convicted following a trial.

Manchester Crown Court heard Fiddaman didn’t reveal he had lied for 16 hours, meaning the officer had to go to hospital for tests.

Fiddaman was in a car which crashed into a wall in Hulme, at the junction of Greenheys Lane and Bold Street in the early hours.

He and another man left, but they were tracked down after residents called 999.

Man locked up for ‘unforgivable’ attack on sleeping teen after cannabis party

This is also noteworthy for the fact that he claims to have imported the cannabis from the USA and knew that it was strong, providing yet more evidence that cannabis smokers do, in fact, know what they are smoking:

A man who raped and sexually assaulted a teenage girl after a cannabis party at his home has been jailed for five and a half years.

Daniel Lee Cook, of no fixed address but formerly of Caernarfon, attacked the girl despite her telling him to stop.

The 22-year-old had admitted the charges at an earlier hearing and was at Caernarfon Crown Court for sentence.

Cook initially denied the offences, claiming he had slept through the night, and suggested the girl was lying.

When confronted by forensic evidence linking him to the victim, he claimed she had had sex with him while he slept.

Jailing him, Judge Huw Rees said Cook had admitted to an “unforgivable piece of behaviour, fuelled by drugs, to satisfy his lustful needs”.

In addition, the judge made an indefinite restraining order preventing Cook from contacting the girl.

He must also sign the sex offenders register for life.

The court heard Cook had been joined at his home by the girl and two friends and, during the evening, they had smoked several cigarettes containing cannabis.

Prosecutor Mathew Curtis said Cook had boasted the drug was imported from America and was very strong.

Later, during the early hours, the girl was asleep when she became aware of Cook behind her.

She told him to stop and Cook left the room, but later returned and attacked her a second time.

After this occasion, she left the house and the police were alerted. Cook was arrested the following day.

At interview, he claimed the girl was lying and later, after forensic tests were carried out, he claimed she had attacked him.

Elen Owen, defending, said Cook genuinely doesn’t recall the night in question, having taken a cocktail of prescription drugs, alcohol and cannabis.

She said his best mitigation was his guilty plea and urged the court to keep the prison sentence as short as possible.

Violent rapist who attacked pregnant girl in Blackpool gets extended prison sentence

A convicted sex offender who subjected a vulnerable teenager to a brutal rape on the day she discovered she was expecting a baby has been jailed – more than a decade later.

Judge Philip Parry branded the violent attack as “of the utmost depravity” as he found Michael Allen MacKenzie to be a dangerous offender who posed a substantial risk to women.

He imposed a 14 year jail term with an extended licence period of five years.

MacKenzie, 69, of Keswick Road, Blackpool, had failed to attend his trial at Preston Crown Court in March and was later found in Blackpool attempting to commit suicide.

But after being assessed by a psychiatrist and found fit to face trial, he admitted two rapes and two indecent assaults against the victim, who cannot be identified.

He was prosecuted as a result of a separate Lancashire Police investigation into the sexual exploitation of children in the resort, though he is not linked to that probe.

Prosecuting, Katie Jones said the complainant, now a married mum, had revealed the rape to her husband in 2013. She said she had been a vulnerable girl, her family were known to social services and she went to a local school in Blackpool.

She got to know some girls, and through their friendship she got to know MacKenzie.

Miss Jones added: “So it was that she got to know the defendant and he used to give the girls money, which they would spend on cigarettes, sweets and alcohol, and he would also give them cannabis.

“He would pay her compliments. It used to make her feel uncomfortable and she didn’t like his attention.”

The court heard she went to the defendant’s Blackpool flat with her friend the day she found out she was pregnant after her family’s reaction. She was told the defendant had keys to a flat he was “looking after” and could stay there.

Miss Jones said: “At the flat, the prosecution say, all three spent time drinking alcohol he had brought with him and smoking cannabis. She remembered the cannabis made her paranoid.”

The court heard the girls fell out, and the friend left the flat, leaving the pair alone. After locking the door MacKenzie then launched a vile attack, putting a washing line around the terrified teen’s neck and dragging her onto the floor and into the bedroom where he punched her. He ripped her clothes off and attacked her multiple times, holding her by her throat or by her hair. The attack went on throughout the night.

Miss Jones added: “She asks herself why she didn’t try and get out. She felt like her body had given up and would rather him do the awful things he was doing and get out alive for the sake of her unborn child.”

The following morning, after he left the flat, the youngster went to Blackpool Police Station and stood outside for a while, but did not have the courage to go in. In a victim impact statement she said she feared she would be judged because she was pregnant.

She said: ” I felt ashamed and dirty and I couldn’t tell anyone what he had done to me. “After all who would believe me? I was young and pregnant.” She also said she feared she could have lost her baby as a result of the violent attack.

MacKenzie has 20 convictions for 35 offences including unlawful sexual intercourse with 15 year old girl, an attempted rape in 1989, and violence.

Defending, Sara Haque asked for credit for his guilty pleas and argued he did not pose a risk to the public as 15 years had passed since his last conviction.

Judge Philip Parry said: “The victim was in my judgement an incredibly vulnerable young teenager.

“Set about that depressing background she was desperate for friendship and genuine affection.

“She was that day even more vulnerable and in need of comfort and affection than ever before.

“She cried out and begged you to stop.

“She was by now utterly terrified and in fear of her life.”

“She has nothing to be ashamed of – the shame Mr MacKenzie, is all yours.

“In my judgement you destroyed her childhood years and many of her adult years too.”

He must sign the sex offender’s register for life.