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History > 2012 > UK > Justice (I)



Man charged

with Christmas murder of girlfriend

David O'Sullivan remanded in custody
after appearing in Llanelli court
over stabbing of Charmaine MacMuiris
on 25 December


Friday 28 December 2012
11.49 GMT
Press Association
This article was published
on guardian.co.uk at 11.49 GMT
on Friday 28 December 2012.
It was last modified at 00.01 GMT
on Saturday 29 December 2012.


A man has appeared in court charged with killing his girlfriend on Christmas Day.

David Thomas O'Sullivan appeared before Llanelli magistrates on Friday morning, to face one charge of murder.

He is accused of stabbing to death Charmaine MacMuiris, 37, on Christmas morning at his home in Maes Yr Ysgol, Carmarthen, south Wales.

The 28-year-old, who had been dating MacMuiris for just over a fortnight, was met with cries of "bastard" as he was led into the dock by two security guards. He only spoke to confirm his name, age and address before being remanded into custody.

MacMuiris's family said they had been devastated by the mother-of-three's death.

It is believed her body was discovered at O'Sullivan's address by relatives who had gone to collect her for Christmas dinner.

A family statement issued via Dyfed Powys police said: "We are heartbroken and devastated by the loss of our beautiful daughter. Our lives will never, ever be the same again.

"Charmaine was taken from her children, grandchild and all her family in the most cruel of ways on Christmas Day. No family should ever have to face such a tragedy.

"We would like to thank family, friends, relations and neighbours for their support and kindness during this sad time."

Tributes have continued to be paid to MacMuiris in the local community and on Facebook.

Around six members of her family attended the court hearing, where defending barrister Giles Hayes told magistrates he would not be making an application for bail.

O'Sullivan will appear at Swansea crown court on 8 January.

    Man charged with Christmas murder of girlfriend, NYT, 28.2.2012,






Prestatyn fire:

woman appears in court charged with four counts of murder

Melanie Jane Smith, 42, denies charges
and is remanded in custody to appear at Mold crown court on Wednesday


Tuesday 30 October 2012
11.58 GMT
Press Association
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 11.58 GMT
on Tuesday 30 October 2012. It was last modified at 12.47 GMT
on Tuesday 30 October 2012.


A woman has appeared in court charged with four counts of murder after a house fire killed four members of the same family.

Lee-Anna Shiers, 20, her four-year-old nephew Bailey and two-year-old niece Skye died in the blaze in Prestatyn, north Wales, on 19 October.

Firefighters managed to rescue Shiers' 15-month-old son Charlie and his father, Liam Timbrell, 23, from their first-floor flat , but the child died two days later and Timbrell remains in a serious condition in hospital.

Melanie Jane Smith, 42, was charged on Monday night with four counts of murder, one count of arson with intent to endanger life, and threats to commit criminal damage.

Smith, who lives in the flat below the victims, appeared at Prestatyn magistrates court on Tuesday. Her solicitor, Chris Dawson, said she denied the allegations against her.

The chairman of the magistrates, Kenneth Allitt, remanded Smith in custody to appear before Mold crown court on Wednesday.

As Smith was taken down to the cells, two women in the public gallery shouted out the names of Skye and Bailey and a third woman shouted "rot in hell" at the defendant.

    Prestatyn fire: woman appears in court charged with four counts of murder, G, 30.10.2012,






Dale Cregan in court on police murder charges

Cregan remanded on four charges of attempted murder, and four of murder,
including for shooting of two police officers


Friday 21 September 2012
11.13 BST
Press Association
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 11.13 BST
on Friday 21 September 2012. It was last modified at 11.18 BST
on Friday 21 September 2012. It was first published at 11.09 BST
on Friday 21 September 2012.

Armed police block the streets as a police van believed to be carrying Dale Cregan leaves court
Armed officers block the streets as a police van believed to be carrying Dale Cregan leaves Manchester city magistrates court. Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA

Dale Cregan has appeared in court accused of four murders, including the shooting and grenade attack that killed two female police officers.

Constables Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes, 23, of Greater Manchester police, died in Hattersley, Tameside, on Tuesday morning.

The defendant also faced charges of murdering father and son David and Mark Short earlier this year and four attempted murders.

Cregan, 29, entered Manchester city magistrates court at 10.08am for the hearing, which lasted just two minutes. Wearing a dark blue sweatshirt and a false black onyx eye to replace his missing left eye, Cregan was brought into the secure dock flanked by four police officers. Two more officers dressed in military-style fatigues and armed with machine guns stood outside the dock.

Cregan, who has grown a thick beard, scanned the courtroom and stared over at the public gallery, where relatives of the Short family were seated. He sat down as he entered the dock but got to his feet after he was asked to stand by the district judge Jonathan Taaffe. He spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth to the courtroom, which was packed with reporters.

Taaffe then read out the eight charges and the court was told that they were so serious they could only be dealt with in a higher court. The case was automatically sent to Manchester crown court for a further hearing on Monday.

"You will be remanded into custody until that time, please go with the officers," the judge told Cregan.

There was no application for bail by Cregan's solicitor, David Caplin.

The double police killing has provoked national shock and outrage after the unarmed officers were lured by a routine burglary call to a house on the Hattersley estate. Cregan was arrested a short time later after walking into Hyde Police Station two miles away. He was already wanted by police in relation to the Short murders.

Mark Short, 23, died from a gunshot wound to his neck after a gunman entered a pub and opened fire, around 11.50pm at the Cotton Tree Inn in Droylsden, Tameside, on 25 May. Cregan is also accused of the attempted murders of Michael Belcher, Ryan Pridding and John Short, who were in the pub at the time.

On 10 August the victim's father, David, 46, died in a grenade and gun attack on his home in Clayton, Manchester. Less than 10 minutes later there was another grenade explosion less than half a mile away in Droylsden. Cregan faces a further charge of attempted murder of Sharon Hark arising from the incidents on that day.

    Dale Cregan in court on police murder charges, G, 21.9.2012,






Salford student shooting:

accused admits killing but denies murder

Kiaran Stapleton remanded in custody
after pleading not guilty to murder of Indian student Anuj Bidve in Salford


Friday 1 June 2012
11.31 BST
Helen Carter
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 11.31 BST on Friday 1 June 2012.
It was last modified at 12.41 BST on Friday 1 June 2012.


The man accused of murdering Indian student Anuj Bidve has admitted responsibility for his death during a brief hearing at Manchester crown court.

Kiaran Stapleton, 21, of Ordsall, Salford admitted shooting the student on Boxing Day last year and pleaded guilty on Friday morning to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

However, Stapleton, who wore a grey tracksuit when he appeared in the dock, pleaded not guilty to murder. The prosecution refused to accept the not guilty plea. The case will now go to trial on 25 June.

Bidve's parents, Subhash and Yogini, who had travelled from India for the hearing, were in court as Stapleton gave his pleas and was remanded in custody.

Mr Justice Henriques banned any further reporting of proceedings other than the pleas. The case will be heard before Mr Justice King.

Bidve, 23, was with a group of friends in Ordsall when he was shot in the head at close range. He had been walking from his hotel in Trafford Park to Manchester city centre when he was attacked.

Following his death, a candlelit vigil was held by members of the local community and his parents travelled from India to visit the spot where he died.

He had been studying for a micro-electronics postgraduate qualification at Lancaster University after completing an electronics degree at Pune University in India.

A memorial service was held at Lancaster University, which also opened a book of condolence.

    Salford student shooting: accused admits killing but denies murder, NYT, 1.6.2012,






Shafilea Ahmed killed by parents

for bringing shame on family, court hears

Teenager was murdered because she refused to agree to arranged marriage,
Chester crown court told


Monday 21 May 2012
14.42 BST
Helen Carter


The parents of a teenager murdered her because she failed to conform to their wishes for an arranged marriage and she allegedly "brought shame" on the family, a court has heard.

Shafilea Ahmed, who was 17 when she died in September 2003, was described as a westernised British girl of Pakistani origin at the start of her parents' murder trial at Chester crown court. Her parents, Iftikhar Ahmed, 52, a taxi driver, from Warrington, Cheshire, and his wife, Farzana, 49, a housewife, are accused of murder.

Shafilea's badly decomposed remains were discovered by workmen in Sedgwick, Cumbria, five months after she disappeared in February 2004, the jury was told.

Prosecutor Andrew Evis QC told the jury on Monday morning that her parents had standards that she was "reluctant to follow". In particular, like most 16- or 17-year-old girls, she wanted boyfriends, Evis said, which caused intense pressure on the family. Her parents controlled her so she didn't have freedom of movement, the court heard. She ran away from home in 2002 and early 2003, but always returned.

In the year before she died, the prosecution said, her parents "embarked on a campaign of domestic violence and abuse directed at her and designed to force her to conform so that she behaved in a way that was expected".

"The defendants had spent the best part of 12 months trying to crush her will, realised they were not going to succeed and finally killed her because she had dishonoured the family and brought shame on them."

He said that when she went missing on 11 September she wasn't reported missing until a week later, "not by a member of her family", Evis said, "but by a teacher".

Evis said the prosecution alleges she was murdered by her parents at the family home on the night of 11-12 September 2003.

He told the court that Shafilea's younger sister, Alesha, had witnessed the murder of her sister by her parents "acting together", and later told police what she saw after she was arrested in 2010 for her part in a robbery at the family home.

It was the final piece of the jigsaw for the police investigation, the prosecution said, as "until that moment [it] had no direct evidence of murder".

Evis said it was an extraordinary thing to accuse your parents of murder, to say that you were there and watched your parents murder your sister. He said for the last "almost nine years, Alesha had lived under the most extraordinary of circumstances".

After telling her friends in 2003 what had happened, Alesha soon retracted her comments and returned to the family unit, where she was brought back into "silence and denial". It must have been a great strain because of her divided loyalties, the court heard.

The court heard that Shafilea was "recaptured or abducted" by her father outside her school in February 2003 after she had run away from home.

Evis said arranged marriages were perfectly acceptable in many communities, but said forced marriage was a completely different thing. He said the two defendants wanted an arranged marriage for their daughter but "in the end it was going to require compulsion because she didn't want to do it".

Shafilea, he said, was taken to Pakistan later in February 2003 and was "appalled" by the prospect of an arranged marriage to a man in rural Pakistan. She swallowed bleach at her grandparents' house in Pakistan as an act of self-harm or out of desperation. When she returned to the UK, she was taken to hospital as an emergency case and needed regular treatment on a stricture of her oesophagus.

He said no one else had caused Shafilea distress "apart from her parents".

The prosecution alleges that her parents also withdrew money from her bank account that she'd saved from a part-time job.

The Ahmeds deny murder and the trial continues.

    Shafilea Ahmed killed by parents for bringing shame on family, court hears, G, 21.5.2012






Sam Hallam released after seven years in prison

Decision to release 24-year-old
after appeal over 2004 murder conviction follows long legal battle by family


Thursday 17 May 2012
The Guardian
Sandra Laville, crime correspondent
This article appeared on p4 of the Main section section of the Guardian on Thursday 17 May 2012. It was published on guardian.co.uk at 01.58 BST on Thursday 17 May 2012. It was last modified at 01.59 BST on Thursday 17 May 2012. It was first published at 20.33 BST on Wednesday 16 May 2012.


Sam Hallam became one of the youngest victims of a miscarriage of justice on Wednesday when the court of appeal released him after he served seven years for murder.

Hallam, 24, emerged with his mother on to the steps of the high court, where, in front of a crowd of photographers, he was sprayed with champagne by the friends and supporters who have long campaigned for his release.

Hallam, of Hoxton, north London, was just 18 when he was jailed for life for the murder of Essayas Kassahun in a gang attack in October 2004.

The court of appeal is expected to quash his murder conviction on Thursday after the crown dramatically withdrew all opposition to his appeal.

The court heard Hallam was jailed as a result of a flawed investigation that failed to follow lines of inquiry and in which the Metropolitan police and the Crown Prosecution Service withheld evidence.

Outside the court, his mother, Wendy Cohen, said: "I am just shocked. I knew this would happen, he should never have been in there. My family has gone through hell, it is like we were all being tortured. Sam's father killed himself while he was inside, all of us have suffered."

Hallam's release comes after a campaign run by friends and family and supported by the actor Ray Winstone.

Henry Blaxland QC, for Hallam, said: "Sam Hallam and I put it boldly has been the victim of a serious miscarriage of justice brought about by a combination of manifestly unreliable identification evidence failure by police properly to investigate his alibi and non-disclosure by the prosecution of material that could have supported his case."

Shortly afterwards, supporters and friends inside the court gasped as David Hannon QC, for the crown, announced: "We have given this anxious consideration for a long time, and again today, and we are not in a position to oppose the appeal."

Hallam was one of two men convicted of the killing of 21-year-old Kassahun in a gang attack which was over within seconds on the night of 11 October 2004. The trial judge recommended he serve life with a minimum term of 12 years.

The only evidence against him was two supposed witnesses who claimed he was present at the murder, one of whom gave several different accounts. The second retracted his evidence at the trial.

There was no forensic evidence to link him to the scene, and under cross-examination the main witness, Phoebe Henville, admitted: "I just wanted someone to blame."

The appeal was brought after the criminal cases review commission instructed an outside police force to investigate something it only does in a handful of cases. The inquiry by Thames Valley police uncovered new evidence which showed the witness evidence was "so manifestly unreliable" that it should never have been put to a jury, the court of appeal was told.

Other new evidence included information from previously undisclosed police documents about another suspect, and evidence from Hallam's mobile phone which suggested he was in the pub with his father on the night of the murder.

As the crown withdrew its opposition to the appeal, Lady Justice Hallett adjourned the hearing for a few minutes and asked Hallam if he needed time to compose himself. She then announced that he would be released on bail with almost immediate effect. Hallam was led to the court cells, from where, shortly afterwards, he emerged into the well of the high court and the embrace of his mother. As campaigners cheered and clapped, most in tears, he stared straight ahead, looking dazed.

His brother Terry Hallam, 32, said: "It feels amazing. I just want to get him back home. The first thing we are going to do is visit my dad's grave together, he hasn't been able to do that. We are all stunned, we knew it would happen but we didn't think it would happen so suddenly."

As Hallam was driven away, Paul May, who led the campaign to release him, said he was considering referring the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. "There's a legal duty on the police to pursue reasonable lines of inquiry. They didn't do it, they didn't do their job," said May."Not only has an innocent man gone to prison, the perpetrators of this dreadful murder have largely escaped justice."

Winstone criticised the police and demanded answers on Wednesday evening. He said there had been "an outrageous miscarriage of justice" on ITV's Tonight With Trevor McDonald. "For me it is the disgraceful unprofessional action of the police involved in this case. Action that has caused a terrible stress within the family of the Hallams."

    Sam Hallam released after seven years in prison, G, 17.5.2012,






Gang members jailed for shooting of five-year-old girl

Thusha Kamaleswaran was paralysed
after being shot in the chest as she played in her uncle's shop in south London


Thursday 19 April 2012
13.25 BST
Matthew Taylor
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 13.25 BST on Thursday 19 April 2012. It was last modified at 13.45 BST on Thursday 19 April 2012.


Three members of a south London street gang who shot and paralysed a five-year-old girl have been jailed for a total of 45 years.

Nathaniel Grant, Anthony McCalla and Kazeem Kolawole were chasing a man they believed was a member of a rival gang when Thusha Kamaleswaran was shot in the chest as she played in her uncle's south London shop in March last year.

The bullet hit her spine before passing out of her back. In the moments after the shooting she twice went into cardiac arrest as medics battled to save her.

The trio were found guilty last month of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Thusha and shopper Roshan Selvakumar, who was shot in the face, as well as attempted murder of their intended victim Roshaun Bryan.

Grant will serve a minimum of 17 years, and Kolawole and McCalla at least 14 years.

Kolawole, 19, of Kennington, south-east London; McCalla, 20, of Streatham, south London; and Grant, 21, of Camberwell, south-east London, were told their crimes were "of the utmost gravity".

Judge Martin Stephens QC said: "Much of what you did was captured on CCTV and has been shown on television screens across the land. "One can only imagine the effect on the public when they saw what you had done."

The court heard that Thusha had been caught in the crossfire of a "tit-for-tat" feud between the Brixton-based GAS gang short for Guns And Shanks and rivals ABM or All 'Bout Money based in neighbouring Stockwell.

The GAS gang is notorious in the south London and is known to be responsible for killing three teenagers in 20 months.

Sentencing, the judge said the trio had gone out with a "determined, premeditated intention to kill" the night Thusha was shot, adding it was an "exceptional case of the utmost gravity".

"Five-year-old Thusha, who was dancing around with her family in the shop, was hit in the body. Only the skill and devotion of the medical teams who became involved saved her life but she remains paralysed below her chest and this condition is permanent.

"This simple but devastating statement of the essential facts of the case illustrate the gravity of these offences, riddled as they are with aggravating factors."

He said the sentences had to reflect "the public's abhorrence" at the shooting of a five-year-old.

"Shooting twice into a small and confined space where it was known there were people present can be denounced as an attack on society itself by men who saw themselves as outside the law and above the law."

In an interview after the verdicts last month, Thusha, now six, said: "I worry that someone will try to hurt me again."

Her mother, Sharmila Kamaleswaran, is said to have suffered insomnia and depression.

Kamaleswaran said in a victim impact statement that seeing her daughter, who dreamed of being a dancer, in a hospital bed "took my heart away".

Police who investigated the case have set up a fund to help raise money to support Thusha's family. Already donations have topped 125,000, and a group of 15 officers and police staff are doing the Three Peaks Challenge in September attempting to climb the highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales to raise further funds.

    Gang members jailed for shooting of five-year-old girl, G, 19.4.2012,






Teenager Daniel Bartlam jailed

for killing mother with hammer

Bartlam, who was 14 when he beat his mother to death and burned her body, sentenced to minimum of 16 years


Monday 2 April 2012
15.09 BST
Sam Jones and agencies
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 15.09 BST on Monday 2 April 2012.
It was last modified at 00.05 BST on Tuesday 3 April 2012.


A teenager who beat his mother to death with a hammer and burned her body in a "chilling" murder inspired by a Coronation Street plot has been jailed for at least 16 years.

Daniel Bartlam, who was 14 at the time, initially told police his mother, Jacqueline, had been killed by an intruder at their home in Redhill, Nottingham, on 25 April last year.

He then changed his story, claiming he had killed her after losing control following an argument. But after examining his computer, detectives recovered a deleted story in which a character called Daniel Bartlam killed his mother in the same circumstances.

Nottingham crown court heard the teenager had been inspired by a plot in Coronation Street in which one of the characters, John Stape, killed a woman with a hammer.

Bartlam denied murder, claiming he had been provoked. He was unanimously convicted by a jury in February, and on Monday the judge, Mr Justice Julian Flaux, lifted reporting restrictions to allow the media to name Bartlam.

Jurors had heard how the boy hit his mother seven times with a claw hammer before pouring petrol around her bedroom, placing newspaper on a gas fire and setting the home alight. His mother's body was identified by her dental records.

Sentencing Bartlam to life imprisonment, the judge set a minimum term of 16 years. He described the killing as grotesque and senseless, and said it appeared Bartlam had wanted to "get away with the perfect murder".

Detective Chief Inspector Kate Meynall, who led the investigation, said she had never dealt with such a horrific case. "The level of violence, degree of planning and extent of his lies is not only shocking, but it is also chilling that a boy of 14 could do this," she said.

"This murder has devastated everyone involved. There is only one person who knows why it happened, and Daniel has lied consistently throughout, making attempts to besmirch Jacqueline's character. Everyone who knew her knew she lived for her children and was a warm, loving mother."

She added: "Maybe one day Daniel will tell the truth, as there are several gaps that only he can fill."

Meynall said Bartlam had been arrested after his version of events was contradicted by other witnesses. "We know Daniel spent time planning to kill his mum, and then executed his plan overnight," she said.

"From his computer, we recovered a deleted story about a character called Daniel Bartlam who killed his mother in the exact same circumstances in which Jacqueline was killed."

In a statement released on behalf of the family, Jacqueline Bartlam's parents said Daniel's attempts to depict her as a bad mother "couldn't be further from the truth". She was, they said, "a wonderful, loving and caring woman [who] would always be there to help if anyone was in trouble".

The statement said the family was still struggling to come to terms with what Daniel had done. "We find it so hard to explain what we are going through.

"There are no winners here because not only have we lost Jacqui, but we have lost Daniel too because of what he's done. We know it was the right result at court but trying to understand how a boy you have loved for 14 years can do something like this is so difficult.

"The most difficult part for us and something that only Daniel can answer is 'why?'"

    Teenager Daniel Bartlam jailed for killing mother with hammer, G, 2.4.2012,






Witchcraft trial:

there may be similar unreported cases, say police

In wake of convictions, police warn that ritualised abuse of children
branded as witches is often hidden crime in UK


Thursday 1 March 2012
19.06 GMT
Alexandra Topping
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 19.06 GMT on Thursday 1 March 2012. A version appeared on p11 of the Main section section of the Guardian on Friday 2 March 2012. It was last modified at 19.31 GMT on Thursday 1 March 2012.


Police and groups representing African communities have warned that ritualised abuse of children branded as witches is an under-reported and hidden crime in the UK, as a man and woman were convicted of murdering a 15-year-old boy because they believed he was a witch.

Eric Bikubi and Magalie Bamu, both 28, murdered Magalie's brother Kristy Bamu in their east London flat after violently abusing him for several days because they believed he was possessed by evil spirits.

Bikubi and Bamu also accused two of the teenager's sisters of witchcraft and were found guilty of causing actual bodily harm after abusing them for several days. The pair will be sentenced on Monday.

Over four days, Kristy, who was visiting his sister with his siblings from France for Christmas, was tortured with metal bars, a chisel, a hammer and a pair of pliers in a "prolonged attack of unspeakable savagery and brutality", the court heard.

In a victim impact statement Pierre Bamu, Kristy's father, said: "The fact that Kristy died at the hands of those who were expected to look after him and his siblings makes it all the more difficult for us to come to terms with."

He said the family had been betrayed over the killing of a "fine young man", adding: "We will never forget, but to put our lives back into sync we must forgive."

Speaking outside the Old Bailey, Detective Superintendent Terry Sharpe said the Met police had done a great deal of work to understand and deal with belief-based child abuse. "However, this is a hidden and under-reported crime and therefore difficult to deal with in terms of protecting potential victims from harm," he said.

Kristy's ordeal began soon after he arrived in London on 16 December 2010. Bikubi, a man he thought of as his uncle, accused him of witchcraft after he wet himself. He forced Kristy and two of his sisters who he also believed were witches Kelly, 20, and their 11-year-old sister, who cannot be named to pray, denying them food and sleep in an attempt to "remove the kindoki", the Lingala word for witchcraft.

Bikubi helped and encouraged by Bamu then focused on Kristy, using an "armoury of weapons". He beat the child with a metal bar used for weights, shoved a metal bar into the teenager's mouth, forced him to eat a screw and struck him with a hammer in the face, knocking out his teeth. Bamu also beat him, taking a pair of pliers and wrenching his ear.

On Christmas Day 2010, when Kristy was weakened due to the beatings, Bikubi forced the boy and his siblings into a bath to wash away the evil spirits. He doused them with water and, as the bath filled, Kristy was submerged and drowned.

When Kristy was found by paramedics in the eighth-floor flat in Forest Gate, his head, face, back and arms were covered in deep cuts and bruises, and several of his teeth were missing. Pathologist reports revealed he suffered 101 injuries and died as a result of drowning and the injuries.

Giving evidence through a French interpreter, Kelly said the pair were fixated on the idea that the three siblings were practising witchcraft. "It was as if they were obsessed by that and then it became absolutely unbearable," she told the court. "I repeated again and again and again that we were not witches that we had come there to spend Christmas as a family together. But I don't know what was going on in their minds. They decided we were there to kill them."

In a "staggering act of depravity and cruelty", the defendants recruited sibling against sibling as "vehicles for their violence", with Kristy's brother forced to stand guard to make sure he did not escape. Just before he died, two of the younger children were made to clean up Kristy's blood, which covered the flat.

In a joint statement, the NSPCC and World Vision said Kristy's was not an isolated case: "The vast majority of people in the communities where it can take place are horrified by these acts and take no part in this atrocious behaviour, so we must not be afraid to challenge these communities to out the wrong-doers within them.

In a statement, Congolese Pastorship UK denounced any ritualised child abuse and said it planned to improve its monitoring system and procedures with a refresher child safeguarding programme .

London-based Africans Unite Against Child Abuse (Afruca) said witchcraft was not just an African problem and needed "serious attention"; it dealt with 12 cases every year in the UK, it said.

On Christmas day, the day Kristy died, Bikubi called his father Pierre Bamu and threatened to kill the child, before passing the phone to Kristy who also warned him that Bikubi would kill him.But Pierre dismissed fears about the children because he could not imagine Bikubi doing any harm to them. Kristy's parents then attempted to get a last-minute hire car but failed, and instead decided to arrive as planned two days later. A few hours later, they received a call from Kelly to tell them Kristy was dead.

Pierre Bamu said in a statement at the Old Bailey that the pain of Kristy's death was "something which cannot be measured or calculated", adding that the family had been betrayed by Bikubi and his daughter. "We were always fond of Eric and regarded him as a son. We were proud that he would call us Mum and Dad. As a family we planned our futures together and Eric and I were to open a restaurant in London together as a legacy for our family," he wrote. "Kristy was a fine young man, kind and considerate, much loved by his family and friends. We saw that he was becoming a man."

    Witchcraft trial: there may be similar unreported cases, say police, G. 1.3.2012,






Stephen Lawrence murder:

Norris and Dobson get 14 and 15 years

Using rules that applied when crime was committed,
judge sentences David Norris to 14 years, three months
and Gary Dobson to 15 years, two months


Wednesday 4 January 2012
14.26 GMT
Sandra Laville and Vikram Dodd
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 14.26 GMT on Wednesday 4 January 2012. It was last modified at 15.43 GMT on Wednesday 4 January 2012. It was first published at 12.24 GMT on Wednesday 4 January 2012.


Gary Dobson and David Norris were ordered to serve minimum sentences of 15 and 14 years respectively for the "terrible and evil" murder of Stephen Lawrence.

The Old Bailey courtroom was filled with extended members of the Lawrence family as Mr Justice Treacy addressed the two men who convicted of the racist killing.

The murder of Lawrence, the judge said, was a "terrible, evil crime".

"A totally innocent 18-year-old youth on the threshold of a promising life was brutally cut down in the street by a racist, thuggish gang. You were both members of that gang. I have no doubt that you fully subscribed to its views and attitudes."

Addressing Dobson, he said: "You are now 36. At 17 years and 10 months you were very nearly 18 when you murdered Stephen Lawrence."

The judge said under rules at the time of the killing in 1993 he must sentence both men as juveniles to be detained at her majesty's pleasure with recommended minimum life terms.

In Dobson's case he sentenced him to a minimum term of 15 years and two months. Dobson stood with his hands behind his back and stared at the judge as he made his remarks.

To Norris, 35, the judge said he would impose a minimum term of 14 years and three months.

Under the current law, which is encompassed in the Criminal Justice Act 2003, if the crime had been committed today, both men could have expected to receive a minimum term of 25 years as juveniles committing a racist knife murder.

Stephen Lawrence's father, Neville, called on Dobson and Norris to turn in the other people involved in the racist attack. He said the sentencing was "only one step in a long, long journey" and called for the other killers to be brought to justice as well.

Addressing reporters outside the Old Bailey, he said: "One of my greatest hopes is that these people have now realised that they have been found out, and they are now going to go and lie down in their beds and think that they were the whole ones who were responsible for the death of my son.

"And they are going to give up the rest of the people so that I [can] come out here again in a year's time and talk to you people again."

Stephen's mother, Doreen, thanked the judge, accepting that he was unable to pass stiffer sentences on Dobson and Norris.

"The sentences that happened may be quite low, but at the same time the judge's hands were tied. And for that, as much as he can do, I am very grateful," she said.

"It's the beginning of starting a new life because we've been in limbo for so long. So today we're going to start moving on, and it's time to take control of my life once more."

The judge said neither Dobson nor Norris had shown the slightest regret or remorse and had lied to the court and the police.

He said that undercover police footage of the pair using racist obscenities showed "disgusting and shocking scenes", and that the murder was committed "for no other reason than racial hatred".

Treacy said that neither Lawrence nor his friend Duwayne Brooks, who was with him on the night of the fatal attack, had done anything to harm, threaten or offend the group.

The evidence in the trial could not prove who wielded the knife, but he said that whoever used it had done so with Dobson and Norris's "knowledge and approval".

He said: "Whilst the attack on Stephen Lawrence himself clearly could not have been premeditated since it was a chance encounter, I cannot accept that a crime of this type simply arose on the spur of the moment.

"The way in which the attack took place strongly suggests to me that your group, if not actively seeking out a victim, was prepared, if the opportunity arose, to attack in the way in which you did."

Dobson and Norris were convicted unanimously by an Old Bailey jury on Tuesday after a seven-week trial. The men two of the five original suspects for the racist killing of Lawrence in 1993 were brought to justice after a cold case review of the exhibits in the case unearthed DNA evidence putting them at the scene on the murder.

But Dobson's mother continued to protest that her son was innocent. Speaking at the front door of her home in Eltham, south-east London, after arriving home from the Old Bailey after the verdict, Pauline Dobson said: "He's innocent. We are absolutely devastated as a family devastated.

"My son is innocent and one day we will prove that.

"I really don't know what we are going to do but we will find a way to prove he is innocent. Ask all the police who have been involved in this case every single policeman says Gary never did it."

Their conviction finally brought some justice for Lawrence's parents, Doreen and Neville, and his siblings, Stuart and Georgina.

But both parents said in the aftermath of the verdicts that five or six white men were responsible for the killing, and justice would only fully be served once they were all brought to justice.

The Scotland Yard commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, said: "The other people involved in the murder of Stephen Lawrence should not rest easily in their beds" as he welcome the convictions of Norris and Dobson.

Detectives have a list of nine remaining suspects for the murder including the Acourt brothers, Jamie and Neil, and Luke Knight who were three of the five men identified in a series of messages passed to police within hours of the killing.

The case remains open but unless there is a confession or a change of allegiances it is unlikely anyone else will be charged.

Detectives are to visit Dobson and Norris in prison in a bid to exploit their anger that while they will spend years in jail the others responsible are at liberty. But police cannot offer any inducements to the men. And as convicted killers and liars the idea of signing either of them up as "supergrass" witnesses under the Serious Organised Crime and Policing Act is fraught with difficulties.

What detectives hope is that facing a long jail sentence the men Dobson in particular may provide new evidence that they could pursue.

The killing and the tireless fight for justice of the Lawrence family brought major changes to policing, the law and politics. The acting deputy commissioner of the Met, Cressida Dick, said it had the greatest impact of any murder in modern British history on the police.

The public inquiry into the murder identified institutionalised racism and incompetence within the Met. Acute police failings had ensured that none of the five suspects were brought to justice at the time.

    Stephen Lawrence murder: Norris and Dobson get 14 and 15 years, G, 4.1.2012,






Stephen Lawrence murder:

Gary Dobson and David Norris await sentencing

Minimum jail term is 12 years because pair were juveniles,
and law was less tough on racist crimes in 1993


Wednesday 4 January 2012
08.31 GMT
Sandra Laville, crime correspondent
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 08.31 GMT
on Wednesday 4 January 2012. It was last modified at 08.38 GMT
on Wednesday 4 January 2012.


Gary Dobson and David Norris, the two men convicted of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, will be sentenced today.

The pair, who were 17 and 16 at the time of the murder, will receive a sentence that takes into account as a starting point the fact that they were juveniles at the time of the fatal stabbing.

But Mr Justice Treacy, the trial judge, will also take aggravating factors into account: specifically that the murder was racist, and also that the pair realised one of their group might use a knife.

Had they committed the crime in the last year, Dobson and Norris would expect to receive much tougher sentences, with minimum terms of 25 years for a racially aggravated knife murder.

But under the law at the time of the Lawrence murder, juveniles received lesser sentences for such crimes. The starting point for Dobson's and Norris's sentences is a minimum term of 12 years because they were 17 and 16 at the time of the attack.

But Dobson and Norris could receive sentences of around 18 years, if the judge takes into account all the aggravating factors available.

Dobson and Norris were convicted by an Old Bailey juryon Tuesday, 18 years and eight months after Lawrence was attacked as he waited for a bus in Eltham, south-east London.

The 18-year-old A-level student was engulfed by a gang of five or six white youths, who stabbed him twice in the upper torso, severing two arteries.

His parents spoke of their mixed feelings at the verdict, with Lawrence's mother, Doreen, saying the occasion was not one for celebration.

Speaking outside the Old Bailey, she blamed the police for putting her through 18 years of uncertainty and grief because they had failed to do their job properly in the first place.

"Despite these verdicts, today is not a cause for celebration," she said. "How can I celebrate when my son lies buried, when I cannot see him or speak to him?

"When I will not see him grow up or go to university, or get married or have children. These verdicts will not bring my son back.

"How can I celebrate when I know that this day could have come 18 years ago if the police, who were meant to find my son's killers, [had not] failed so miserably to do so?"

Neville Lawrence said five or six men were responsible for killing his son, and he did not think he could rest until they had all been brought to justice.

The police inquiry into the Lawrence murder remains open, and detectives have nine remaining suspects for the killing. Among these are the Acourt brothers, Neil and Jamie, and Luke Knight who were named as prime suspects in the Macpherson report into the killing.

But after seven police investigations costing 30m and the latest review by forensic scientists, no new evidence has emerged against the remaining suspects.

Detectives believe their only hope in bringing anyone else to justice is a change of allegiances. They will visit Dobson and Norris in prison in an attempt to persuade them to talk, after 18 years in which they have maintained a pact of silence.

But the acting deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan police, Cressida Dick, who ordered the 2006 cold case review that led to the convictions, said there were currently no "live" lines of inquiry.

"If there was an opportunity to bring the other people who were involved in that night to justice, we would do so," she said.

Speaking last night on Channel 4 News, Neville Lawrence called on Norris and Dobson to name the rest of those responsible for his son's murder.

"I'm praying that these people now realise that they have been found out and say to themselves: 'Yes I did that awful deed, but I wasn't alone in that action that night and there are other people who are also guilty of what I have done' and name them," he said.

Neil Acourt, Jamie Acourt and Luke Knight were arrested along with Norris and Dobson in 1993 in connection with the murder.

Dobson and Norris were convicted after scientists discovered a minute spot of Stephen's blood embedded into the weave of the collar of Dobson's jacket. They also found tiny fibres from Stephen's clothes on items seized from the homes of Dobson and Norris. On a pair of jeans belonging to Norris, they also discovered a tiny hair, which after mitochondrial DNA testing was found to match the Lawrence family maternal line.

Scientists recovered the material using advanced techniques that were unavailable to the original case scientists.

Dobson and Norris denied the murder. They said their clothing had been contaminated as police mixed up evidence over the years. Detectives spent months establishing the movements and handling of the exhibits since 1993 and the jury were told contamination was implausible.

The jury deliberated for just over eight hours before announcing their verdict yesterday. As they did so, Dobson shook his head. He stared at the jury and said: "You have condemned an innocent man. I hope you can all live with yourselves."

    Stephen Lawrence murder: Gary Dobson and David Norris await sentencing, G, 4.1.2012,






Salford murder accused gives name as 'Psycho' in court

Man accused of killing Indian student Anuj Bidve
is remanded in custody for 24 hours


Sam Jones and agencies
Monday 2 January 2012
12.19 GMT
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 12.19 GMT on Monday 2 January 2012. A version appeared in the Guardian on Tuesday 3 January 2012. It was last modified at 13.03 GMT on Monday 2 January 2012.


The man accused of murdering an Indian student in Salford on Boxing Day has appeared in court and given his name as "Psycho Stapleton".

Anuj Bidve, 23, described as a "promising and clever" student, was shot once in the head at around 1.30am on 26 December. He died a short time later in hospital.

He was with a group of fellow Indian students visiting Manchester for Christmas when he was murdered.

On Monday, Kiaran Stapleton, 20, from Ordsall, Salford, was remanded in custody for 24 hours at City of Manchester magistrates court.

Shortly before the hearing began, four armed officers dressed in black stood in each corner of the court. Stapleton, who was handcuffed, was then brought into the dock and asked for his name.

He replied: "Psycho. Psycho Stapleton."

The defendant, wearing a grey T-shirt and grey jogging bottoms and flanked by two police officers, then confirmed his date of birth.

Ben Southam, prosecuting, said: "He appears charged with murder. That's a matter that can only be dealt with at the crown court by a judge under section 115 of the Coroners and Justice Act."

He added: "He will be sent to Manchester crown court in due course." There was no application for bail.

Bidve was studying for a micro-electronics postgraduate qualification at Lancaster University. The student arrived in the UK in September after completing an electronics degree at Pune University.

The killing generated national and international shock, especially in the victim's home country.

His father, Subhash Bidve, has been critical of the way the British and Indian authorities have handled the case. He found out about his son's death on Facebook at home in Pune, India, before police in the UK could contact him. Two officers from Greater Manchester police have since flown to India to meet the Bidve family.

Hundreds of people plan to attend a candlelit memorial service for the student in Ordsall Lane, Salford, at 6pm on Monday, while hundreds more are expected at a peace march for him in India, starting near Nehru Park in New Delhi at 6pm and finishing at the British embassy.

    Salford murder accused gives name as 'Psycho' in court, G, 2.1.2012,





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