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History > 2013 > UK > Justice (I)



Ian Watkins gets 35-year sentence

for child sex crimes

Detectives believe there are more victims
and will continue to investigate activities
of former Lostprophets singer


Wednesday 18 December 2013
16.31 GMT
Steven Morris and agency
This article was published on the Guardian website
at 16.31 GMT on Wednesday 18 December 2013.
It was last modified at 16.50 GMT
on Wednesday 18 December 2013.
It was first published at 14.40 GMT
on Wednesday 18 December 2013.


The rock singer Ian Watkins has received a 35-year sentence after admitting a string of sex offences involving children including the attempted rape of a baby.

Two women, known only as Woman A and Woman B who are the mothers of children he abused were sentenced to 14 and 17 years respectively.

Watkins was jailed by Mr Justice Royce for 29 years. He will serve at least two thirds of that before the parole board can decide if he should be released. If he is released early, he will serve the rest of the jail term on licence. But the judge stipulated he will serve an extra six years on licence on top of that, bringing the total sentence to 35 years.

Royce told Watkins: "Those who have appeared in these courts over many years see a large number of horrific cases. This case, however, breaks new ground.

"You, Watkins, achieved fame and success as the lead singer of Lostprophets. You had many fawning fans. That gave you power. You knew you could use that power to induce young female fans to help satisfy your insatiable lust and take part in the sexual abuse of their own children.

"Away from the highlights of your public performances lay a dark and sinister side."

Watkins looked blank as he was led from the dock. The sentence was greeted by shouts of "yes" from the public gallery.

During his sentencing hearing it emerged that the day after the former Lostprophets lead singer admitted his offences he told a female fan from prison that he was going to issue a statement saying it had been "mega lolz". He also told her he did not know "what everybody is getting so freaked out about".

Watkins, who has been on suicide watch in prison, told the woman, only identified as Samantha, that he had thought about telling the court: "Come on, it was not that bad; nobody got hurt." He said another tactic could be to "win them over with my charm" and claim: "I was off my head and do not remember anything."

The hearing was told that in a second conversation with the same woman on the following day he insisted that no baby was ever harmed.

Christopher Clee, prosecuting, detailed images found on Watkins's computer. Of a total of 90 images of child abuse, 24 fell into the most serious category. He also possessed 22 images of bestiality.

In mitigation, Watkins's barrister, Sally O'Neill, said her client's life had unravelled because of the pressures of fame and his drug addiction.

She said: "He was the singer of an extremely successful band that sold millions of records and the focus of considerable attention from fans. Fans who would do anything to attract his attention and once they had it do anything to keep it. It was 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He was bombarded with messages from fans trying to hit on him."

She said drugs played a "considerable part" in Watkins's offending. She explained his "mega lolz" comments as bravado, adding: "He was at a very low ebb and under considerable stress."

She said Watkins conceded that it was "probably his arrogance" that led him to believe he could live outside normal rules of morality. "He has perhaps, belatedly but nonetheless now, realised the gravity of what has happened," she said.

As Watkins begins his prison sentence, detectives said they would continue to investigate his activities.

They said they believed there were more victims and were liaising with forces across Britain, the international police organisation Interpol and the department for homeland security in the US. South Wales detectives have already travelled to the US and to Germany, where the band toured extensively, to try to establish if Watkins committed sex offences there.

The police, organisations that work with abused children and Watkins's former bandmates have all urged other victims to contact the authorities.

Watkins and two female fans in their 20s, who cannot be named, had been due to stand trial last month at Cardiff crown court for a total of more than 20 offences, including allegations involving the women's children, a boy and a girl. He had denied the accusations and loyal fans had attended court to show their support.

But at the last moment after jury members had been warned they would have to examine some very disturbing images and arrangements had been made for them to receive counselling after the trial Watkins and the women pleaded guilty to almost all the charges.

Watkins, whose former band has sold around 3.5m albums, admitted 13 charges over five years including attempting to rape one of the children and conspiring to rape the other. The court was told that the two women sexually abused their children at his behest and were prepared to make the children available to him for sex.

The prosecution said the attempted rape happened while Watkins was staying at a hotel in west London shortly after appearing on BBC Radio 1.

When police investigated Watkins, who is from Pontypridd in south Wales, they found a "secret" computer disc. GCHQ experts helped police get access to the material on the disc, which featured videos of sexual abuse, including the attempted rape.

Watkins, a user of crack cocaine and crystal meth, maintained he could not remember the incident but the court was told this could have been because he was high on drugs. It emerged he had also discussed forcing his victims to take drugs and one of them was found to have been "exposed" to crystal meth.

Clee, the prosecutor, branded Watkins a "determined and committed paedophile". The court heard of one exchange in which a woman offered him a "summer of child porn". He replied: "Hell yes, baby."

Watkins's barrister claimed that Woman A and Woman B were equally to blame for the abuse that was carried out.

But Woman A's barrister, Jonathan Fuller QC, said his client was an impressionable 17-year-old when she met Watkins for the first time.

"She was corrupted by him," said Fuller. "He darkened her world with drugs and even injected her with heroin. She sacrificed her own moral compass so she could sustain a relationship with a man she was obsessed with.

"She was a girl doing her A-levels. He was in the limelight and a rock star. She was vulnerable and exploited."

Christine Laing QC, for Woman B, said her client was a "very immature young woman" suffering from an undiagnosed personality disorder and postnatal depression when she first spoke to Watkins. Laing told the court how Watkins had told Woman B: "You and your daughter now belong to me."

South Wales police who have codenamed their investigation Operation Globe said detectives had spoken to witnesses around the world. They said two young victims were now being cared for in places of safety, but the force would continue to question Watkins in case there were other victims.

Before the sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Doyle said he believed there were further victims.

Co-founded by Watkins in Pontypridd in 1997, Lostprophets released five albums. The other members of Lostprophets announced the band was splitting up last month. They have made it clear they knew nothing of Watkins's offending.

After the singer's conviction, HMV removed the band's music from sale. Rhondda Cynon Taf council agreed that paving stones bearing his lyrics in Pontypridd should be removed.

    Ian Watkins gets 35-year sentence for child sex crimes, G, 18.12.2013,






A very public murder:

the killing of Private Lee Rigby

Savage street attack on soldier was retaliation
for perceived western oppression of Muslims,
court hears


Friday 29 November 2013
20.59 GMT
The Guardian
Vikram Dodd, Josh Halliday
and Matthew Taylor
This article was published on the Guardian website
at 20.59 GMT on Friday 29 November 2013.
A version appeared on p1 of the Main section section of the Guardian on Saturday 30 November 2013.
It was last modified at 01.41 GMT
on Saturday 30 November 2013.


Two men who launched a "barbarous" attack on a soldier in a London street, holding his hair and hacking at his neck as they attempted to behead him, claimed they were inflicting "carnage" in retaliation for western oppression of Muslims, an Old Bailey jury heard on Friday.

Lee Rigby, 25, was killed near the Woolwich barracks in south-east London in May in an attack carried out by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale. They deny murder.

The jury saw new and graphic footage of the attack and its aftermath, as it was revealed that one of the assailants had produced a handwritten note justifying his actions which he passed to an onlooker.

In it Adebolajo tried to justify the attack as a strike against the west for alleged aggression against Muslims.

Prosecutors say that when paramedics arrived, Adebolajo told them: "Please let me lay here. I don't want anyone to die, I just want soldiers out of my country Your government is all wrong, I did it for my God. I wish the bullets had killed me so I can join my friends and family."

Richard Whittam QC, prosecuting, said Adebolajo, 28, and Adebowale, 22, crashed a Vauxhall Tigra into Rigby from behind as he crossed the road, at a speed of 30-40mph. CCTV footage showed that Rigby, the father of a two-year-old son, was lifted on to the bonnet and hit the windscreen.

He was flung to the ground as the car hit a street sign, and was not seen to move again. Whittam said the two defendants, brandishing a cleaver and knives bought the day before, then got out of the car and Adebolajo, in the words of one witness, embarked on a "barbarous" attack.

"The driver was carrying a cleaver in his right hand. He knelt down by Lee Rigby and took hold of his hair. He then repeatedly hacked at the right side of his neck just below the jawline. He was using considerable force, bringing his hand into the air each time before he struck."

Another witness, the crown said, also saw that Adebolajo "held his head and deliberately sliced at the neck". The other man, Adebowale, "stabbing Lee Rigby to the body with some force".

The jury heard that more scenes of horror unfolded, with Adebolajo striking nine times at the soldier's neck. Onlookers screamed hysterically and shouted at the attackers to stop.

Another witness said he saw Adebolajo "sawing at the neck of Lee Rigby with a 'machete' and the other man trying to cut bits of the body by hacking away at it". Whittam said the witness described the attack as "being like a butcher attacking a joint of meat". The two men are then accused of dragging the body into the middle of the road, because "they wanted the members of the public present to see the consequences of their barbarous acts", Whittam said.

Rigby a drummer and machine-gunner in the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers had served in Helmand, Afghanistan. On the day he was killed he was travelling back from the Tower of London where he was helping army recruitment. Pictures held up in court showed he was wearing a Help for Heroes sweatshirt as he arrived at nearby Woolwich station, shortly after 2pm.

The jury and Rigby's family and friends watched on screens around the Old Bailey as graphic scenes were shown in court. At times it was too harrowing and some left the court.

The two defendants sat in the dock separated by security guards, just feet away from Rigby's family. Brown paper was taped over part of the dock where the defendants sat, so they were shielded from the view of the victim's relatives and friends.

Video was played of Adebolajo handing a letter to a woman after the attack. The court heard the handwritten note said that "carnage reaching your town" was "simply retaliation for your oppression in our towns". It continued: "Whereas the average Joe Bloggs working-class man loses his sons when they're killed by our brothers, when the heat of battle reaches your local street it's unlikely that any of your so-called politicians will be at risk or caught in crossfire so I suggest you remove them.

"Remove them and replace them with people who will secure your safety by immediate withdrawal from the affairs of Muslims."

The court heard that in a police interview after the attack Adebolajo is alleged to have said: "Your people have gone to Afghanistan and raped and killed our women. I am seeking retribution. I wouldn't stoop so low as to rape and kill women." He added: "I thank the person who shot me because it is what Allah would have wanted."

Whittam dismissed any notion that retaliation for any perceived wrongdoing was a defence morally or in law and pointed out that Rigby had been dressed in civilian clothes. The prosecutor told the court: "Killing to make a political point, or to frighten the public to put pressure on the government, or as an expression of anger, is murder and remains murder whether the government in question is a good one, a bad one or a dreadful one.

"Equally, there is no defence of moral justification for killing, just as there is no defence of religious justification. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth suggests revenge or retaliation and, in the context of this case, murder."

The jury also saw footage which the crown said showed how close an armed officer who rushed to the scene came to being injured. As police arrived, Adebolajo came within feet of the female officer who realised too late that she could not get her gun out of a leg holster in time as she was sitting in the front seat of a car.

Adebolajo, the crown said while playing the video footage, raised a meat cleaver at the officer, and was stopped only by her colleague in the back seat of the car who opened fire, without time to aim properly. The shots propelled Adebolajo off his feet. His alleged accomplice, Adebowale, was pointing a gun at them and was also shot.

Both men are also charged with conspiring to murder and the attempted murder of police officers who arrived at the scene of the attack, which they deny.

The court was told the two accused had pleaded guilty to having a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, and the crown allege the weapon was used to scare off members of the public as the accused waited for the police to arrive.

The trial continues.

    A very public murder: the killing of Private Lee Rigby, G, 29.11.2013,






Carole Waugh murder:

conman Rakesh Bhayani jailed for life

Bhayani to serve minimum 27 years in prison after being convicted of stabbing wealthy woman to death


Last modified

on Friday 20 June 2014 15.01 BST

The Guardian

Press Association

Thursday 28 November 2013 12.51 GMT


A conman has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 27 years after stabbing to death a wealthy woman in her flat, hiding her body in the boot of a car and spending her money.

Rakesh Bhayani, 41, was sentenced at the Old Bailey on Thursday for the murder of Carole Waugh. A jury had convicted Bhayani of the murder on Wednesday.

Waugh, 49, died at her flat in Marylebone, central London, where she lived alone. Her body was placed in a bag which was carried to a car. The vehicle was initially stored in a central London car park, then left in a rented garage in New Malden, south London.

She was said to have been a lonely woman who worked as an amateur escort and who believed Bhayani was her friend. Police described Bhayani as "a confidence trickster who murdered her with the sole intention of stripping her assets and the belongings she had worked hard for".

Sentencing Bhayani, Mr Justice Wilkie said he had "ruthlessly targeted" Waugh and "left her body to rot". He said the murder and subsequent dumping of the body had been carried out with "greed, callousness and total lack of any regard" for her.

The murder arose out of an argument about money, the judge said, and he described Waugh as a risk-taker who was vulnerable to conmen.

He said: "Without a second thought, you calmly and comprehensively set about stealing her identity. You took steps to ensure her body would not be found for a sufficient time."

Wilkie said Bhayani embarked on the complete "asset-stripping of her persona".

Waugh's family were in court for the sentencing and heard that the murder was not premeditated.

Wilkie sentenced Bhayani to life with a minimum of 27 years in jail. He also sentenced him to six years for perverting the course of justice and six years for conspiracy to defraud, both of which will run concurrently with his life sentence.

His co-accused Nicholas Kutner, 48, was jailed for a total of 13 years seven for perverting the course of justice by concealing the death, and six for conspiracy to defraud.

The two men showed no emotion as they were taken down after the sentencing.

Wilkie said Bhayani was the instigator and chief organiser of the fraud, and the pair had spent Waugh's money on hotels, casinos and escorts. The court heard earlier that Bhayani had a gambling addiction.

The judge said Kutner was in the flat when Bhayani murdered Waugh and was then "on board with the actions to conceal her death and thwart the investigation" into her murder. He said the concealment of Waugh's body was a job for two people and they were both motivated by greed.

Referring to the pair's previous convictions, Wilkie said the men had appalling records for offences of dishonesty.

Before the sentencing, a statement from Waugh's family was read out in which she was described as "loving, supportive and great fun".

The statement, signed by her brother Christopher Waugh, spoke of "disbelief, dismay, darkness" as the family had to "face our worst fears" in the wake of the murder.

"Why did the authorities not take her disappearance seriously?" the statement asked.

The court heard that five days after Waugh's funeral, her mother collapsed and later died "broken-hearted", unable to understand how and why the tragic events had unfolded.

The statement said the family, especially Waugh's mother, had always looked forward to her visits. "She always had great stories to tell," the court heard.

Carole Waugh murder: conman Rakesh Bhayani jailed for life,
G, NOVEMBER 28,  2013,






Woman admits murdering three men

found stabbed to death in ditches


Monday 18 November 2013
12.46 GMT
The Guardian
Press Association
This article was published on the Guardian website
at 12.46 GMT on Monday 18 November 2013.
A version appeared on p4 of the Main section section
of the Guardian on Tuesday 19 November 2013.
It was last modified at 00.16 GMT
on Tuesday 19 November 2013.
It was first published at 12.07 GMT
on Monday 18 November 2013.


A 30-year-old woman unexpectedly admitted at the Old Bailey that she had stabbed to death three men whose bodies were found in ditches in Cambridgeshire this spring, following a dispute about rent.

Appearing in the dock in a white shirt with a star tattooed under her right eye, Joanna Dennehy, 30, admitted killing property developer Kevin Lee, 48, Lukasz Slaboszewski, 31, and John Chapman, 56, who were found with multiple stab wounds over the course of four days in March and April.

Her guilty plea took her lawyers by surprise, and they applied for time to discuss the plea with their client. But Dennahy told the judge, Mr Justice Sweeney: "I've pleaded guilty, and that's that."

Dennehy, from Peterborough, also pleaded guilty to the attempted murders of another two men, Robin Bereza and John Rogers, and admitted "preventing the lawful and decent burial" of all three murder victims.

She appeared alongside her 7ft 3in tall partner Gary Richards, 47, also known as a Gary Stretch. He denies the two attempted murders and helping Dennehy to dump the bodies.

Dennehy's lawyer Nigel Lickley QC told the court that he would have to check with his client that she did want to plead guilty, saying: "It is incumbent on us to inform the court whether the pleas will be maintained or changed if that is possible we will inform the court on Monday."

But she interrupted the lawyer and said: "I'm not coming back down here again just to say the same stuff. It's a long way to come to say the same thing I have just said."

The body of Lee, described as a "wonderful father and husband", was discovered by a dogwalker in a ditch near the A16 in Newborough, Cambridgeshire, on 30 March with stab wounds to his chest. Police began a nationwide hunt to find Dennehy and Stretch, urging the public to look out for the striking-looking pair.

Dennehy was first arrested on 5 April. A day later, police were called by a farmer to say he had uncovered two more bodies on private land in Thorney Dyke, about 10 miles from Newborough. Lukasz Slaboszewski, a builder originally from Poland, was found with stab wounds to the heart, while John Chapman, who had served in the navy, had been stabbed in the neck and chest. In court, Dennehy admitted killing Lee and Chapman on 29 March and Slaboszewski between 19 and 29 March.

During the search for the pair, locals said that Kevin Lee was the owner of a property where Stretch had been living and that there had been a dispute about rent money owed to the landlord.

The Daily Mail reported that Julie Gibbons, Stretch's ex-partner and mother of his teenage children Charlie and Garry, said before his arrest that he had been sharing a four-bedroom house with strangers. Locals said he lived in a shared house, which had been split into bedsits by Lee, with a man called John, who was in his 50s, and a younger man.After his death, Lee's family described his death as a "tragic loss". In a statement the family said: "We are devastated by Kevin's death. He was a wonderful husband, father, loving brother and son."

Two other defendants appeared at the hearing by videolink. Leslie Layton, 36, of Bifield, Orton Goldhay, pleaded not guilty to perverting the course of justice at an earlier hearing, while Robert Moore, 55, of Belvoir Way, Peterborough, denied assisting an offender.

    Woman admits murdering three men found stabbed to death in ditches,
    NYT, 18.11.2013,






Student pleads guilty

to attacks on Midlands mosques

Pavlo Lapshyn killed 82-year-old Muslim and planted bombs in Wolverhampton and Tipton to increase racial conflict


Monday 21 October 2013
15.13 BST
The Guardian
Vikram Dodd
This article was published on the Guardian website
at 15.13 BST on Monday 21 October 2013.
A version appeared on p1 of the Main section section
of the Guardian on Tuesday 22 October 2013.
It was last modified at 01.07 BST
on Tuesday 22 October 2013.


A Ukrainian student has pleaded guilty to trying to incite a race war on Britain's streets by launching a terrorist campaign in which he stabbed a Muslim grandfather to death and exploded bombs near mosques in an attempt to murder and maim worshippers.

Pavlo Lapshyn, 25, admitted to police that he hated anyone who was not white and that he wanted to carry out a series of violent attacks to convulse community relations.

His campaign started in April 2013, just five days after his arrival from Ukraine, where he had won a prize to gain work experience in Britain. When the PhD student was arrested in July, hours before it was feared he could strike again, police found three partially assembled bombs in his Birmingham flat.

His campaign caused alarm at the top levels of the British government, with the domestic security service MI5 joining the police-led hunt.

Lapshyn's bombing campaign started after the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in a London street, with his final explosive detonating weeks later on the day of Rigby's funeral although police believe the campaign was not motivated by the murder of the soldier. It is believed the Ukrainian acted alone and was unconnected to any group.

On Monday,Laphshyn yesterday pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey in London to the murder and staging the bomb attacks, after confessing to them during police interviews. He will be sentenced on Friday.

The student stabbed Mohammed Saleem, 82, to death in Birmingham as he walked a few hundred yards from a mosque to his home.
Mohammed Saleem, who was stabbed to death as he walked home from the mosque in April Mohammed Saleem, who was stabbed to death as he walked home from the mosque in April. Photograph: PA

During police interviews Lapshyn confessed when asked about the murder: "I have a racial hatred so I have a motivation, a racial motivation and racial hatred." Police say he did not mention Muslims or a specific hatred of Islam.

After the guilty pleas, Shazia Khan, Saleem's daughter, said of her murdered father: "He was targeted simply because of his faith. His beard and his clothing represented who he was. To kill someone because of what they look like and what they believe in is unforgivable."

After the murder Lapshyn acquired materials for bombs. By June he had started placing homemade explosives outside mosques on Fridays, the main day when Muslims attend places of worship.

The device he planted in July, which had 100 nails wrapped around it to maximise the carnage, was aimed at worshippers at the Tipton mosque, where 300 were people expected to attend prayers.

But prayers that particular Friday were held one hour later, so mass casualties were avoided. The device was so powerful it left nails embedded in tree trunks, police said.

The search for Lapshyn was the most intense hunt for a serial bomber on the British mainland in years.

Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, head of the West Midlands counter-terrorism unit, said Lapshyn was "self-radicalised" and used the internet to learn how to make bombs. After his arrest Lapshyn told police he "would like to increase racial conflict" and felt a series of explosions would achieve more than one big attack.

He was explicit about his motivation for the Tipton mosque attack in an interview recorded after he was cautioned: "The purpose was to commit a terrorist act."

Detectives who interviewed him described him as "calm and calculated". He even told police he carried out an attack near the mosque in Wolverhampton, which they had previously been unaware of.

After the verdict the home secretary Theresa May said: "This is a satisfying outcome to a highly distressing case where Pavlo Lapshyn's hatred has robbed a family of a loved one and attempted to cause fear and division within our communities."

Some in Muslim communities felt the attacks were under-reported in the media because Islam was the target, a view shared at one point publicly by West Midlands deputy chief constable David Thompson. Today Beale said "both the media and ourselves should reflect".

Lapshyn had been a gifted student who was studying for a PhD in machine building. Social media pages belonging to him contain extremist rightwing and Nazi material. There were images of Timothy McVeigh, whose bombing of a US government building in Oklahoma in 1995 killed 168 people.

Ukrainian researchers say Lapshyn's social media pages also contain material relating to Hitler, about contemporary Nazis, and rabidly antisemitic material. A laptop seized by British police contained an extremist rightwing publication, The Turner Diaries, also believed to have been read by McVeigh.

Further extremist material was found on Lapshyn's laptop, plus details of planning and virtual reconnaissance for the attacks. There were bus timetables to get him to the mosques he attacked, as well as press coverage of Mohammed Saleem's murder.

Police say they found no material belonging to British racist groups such as the British National party or the English Defence League. Nor was there material suggesting his bombing campaign was incited by the terrorist murder of Lee Rigby on 22 May, which occurred a month before Lapshyn's first bomb attack.

Lapshyn came to Britain after winning a competition to work at a software firm in Birmingham. At a prizegiving ceremony he stood next to the British ambassador to Ukraine.

Police say their inquiries showed no links to groups in Ukraine. But police there had arrested and fined him after an explosion in his flat in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, which may have provided clues for his later actions.

    Student pleads guilty to attacks on Midlands mosques, NYT, 21.10.2013,






Hamzah Khan's brother

tells court of four-year-old boy's neglect

Qaiser Khan, 22, who originally refused to give evidence at mother's trial, says child slept in buggy that stank of urine


Friday 20 September 2013
15.01 BST
The Guardian
Press Association

This article was published on the Guardian website
at 15.01 BST on Friday 20 September 2013.
A version appeared on p14 of the Main section section
of the Guardian on Saturday 21 September 2013.
It was last modified at 00.10 BST
on Saturday 21 September 2013.


The brother of a four-year-old boy whose body was found mummified in his mother's bedroom told a jury how he saw the boy eating the contents of his nappy and sleeping in a buggy that stank of urine.

Qaiser Khan, 22, was giving evidence on the third day of the trial of his mother, Amanda Hutton, 43, who denies the manslaughter of her son Hamzah Khan. Hamzah's body was found in a travel cot in his mother's bedroom in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in September 2011. He had died 21 months earlier in December 2009.

On Friday, Khan told Bradford crown court that Hamzah slept upright in a urine-soaked buggy that "stank". He said his brother was left in a dirty nappy and he saw him eating the contents. "Hamzah appeared neglected," he said.

"I was only at the house for a couple of days. The buggy smelled so bad of urine I got disinfectant and cleaned it out."

Khan was also asked about a text message he sent to Hutton in December 2008. Paul Greaney QC, prosecuting, said the text said: "Watch out Monday you bitch. I'm going to go to the police station to report you for child neglect and abuse. Look at Hamzah." Khan said he did not remember sending it.

Asked by Stephen Meadowcroft QC, defending, if he was exaggerating what was happening at the house because he had a bad relationship with his mother, Khan said: "I've seen this with my own eyes."

Khan told the court that when he was aged about 13, he was made to drink "mouldy, off milk" by his mother as punishment. He said his mother would spend her days drinking. "She would go upstairs and drink and then I wouldn't see her for most of the day," he said.

Earlier, Khan had refused to answer any questions when he first stepped into the witness box. But after a break he returned to court to give his evidence.

The prosecution has told the court Hutton starved her son to death. The defendant told police her son died after he was taken ill.

Meadowcroft suggested Hutton was coping before Hamzah's death. He said: "The child died tragically and it wasn't her fault. After that, she collapsed."

Khan replied: "Urined buggy was that coping? That was before 2009. It was quite clear she wasn't coping. She hadn't cleaned the house up and she didn't clean the nappies."

Earlier, the court heard how Hamzah's father, Aftab Khan, urged police to check on Hamzah and told officers he was going to report his wife to social services.

The jury heard that police interviewed Aftab Khan in 2008 after arresting him on suspicion of assaulting Hutton an offence to which he later pleaded guilty in court.

In the interview he claimed Hamzah was undernourished and neglected. He said: "Believe me, I'm going to get in touch with them [social services] because it's gone so far now." Aftab Khan told the officers he wanted to take Hamzah to a doctor but Hutton would not let him. He said: "I've told her time and time again there's something wrong with that child take him to the doctor." He said his wife's problems were due to her alcohol consumption.

When DI Ian Lawrie, of West Yorkshire police, was asked if Aftab Khan did report his concerns to social services, he replied: "There's no record I'm aware of of any such referral."

Lawrie said police did go to the house after the interview with Aftab Khan. He also confirmed police had been called to the house on eight separate occasions in the two-and-a-half years up to 2008.

The case continues.

    Hamzah Khan's brother tells court of four-year-old boy's neglect,
    G, 20.9.2013,






Daniel Pelka's mother and stepfather

jailed for life

Magdelena Luczak and Mariusz Krezolek
to serve minimum of 30 years
for starving, torturing and killing four-year-old son


Friday 2 August 2013
13.03 BST
Steven Morris
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 13.03 BST
on Friday 2 August 2013.
A version appeared on p4 of the Main section section
of theguardian.com on Saturday 3 August 2013.
It was last modified at 00.01 BST on Saturday 3 August 2013. It was first published at 12.42 BST on Friday 2 August 2013.


The mother and stepfather of Daniel Pelka have been jailed for life for starving, torturing and battering the four-year-old boy to death.

Magdelena Luczak, 27, and her partner, Mariusz Krezolek, 34, were told they would serve at least 30 years behind bars before being eligible for parole.

Sentencing the pair at Birmingham crown court, the judge, Mrs Justice Cox, said the pair had subjected Daniel to "unimaginable acts of cruelty".

She said a "particularly grave" feature was that they had systematically starved him. "He was literally wasting away," the judge said, noting that experts had compared his body to that of concentration camp victims.

The judge said that the fatal attack was a "brutal assault" carried out after he had been force-fed salt and subjected to a "cold water punishment" in which he was held under water in the bath.

She said the couple had carefully lied to the authorities before and after Daniel's death, "cynically" deceiving teachers and welfare and medical officers.

The pair had shown no remorse during the trial, she said, and held them jointly culpable: "Yours was a partnership of equals."
Police images from the Daniel Pelka case A soiled mattress from the room where Daniel Pelka was kept; the door to the room with its handle removed; a computer image of Daniel's severely emaciated body, and Daniel himself. Photograph: West Midlands police/EPA

In mitigation, Stephen Linehan QC, for Luczak, had asked the judge not to "snuff out" hope for her. "This young woman came to this country hoping for a better life and now she is facing a life in prison. She has lost everything. Her situation is truly desperate."

Nigel Lambert QC, for Krezolek, said his client had no previous convictions for violence. Krezolek was ashamed and shocked at his cruelty to Daniel, but still insisted he had not intended to kill the boy, Lambert said, arguing that this set him apart from offenders who set out to murder a child.

Eleven of the 12 jurors who convicted the pair returned to see them sentenced.

During the nine-week trial, the jurors had heard how Luczak and Krezolek systematically denied Daniel meals and force-fed him salt to make him vomit when he was caught sneaking extra food. He was so hungry that he stole sandwiches from other children at school and dug through bins for discarded apple cores.

One child protection expert who examined the boy's body said she had seen such emaciation only in pictures of concentration camp victims. A radiologist compared Daniel's frame to that of a seriously ill cancer patient, and a police detective said he looked like child from a famine-ridden part of Africa.

The couple kept him locked for long periods in a tiny, unheated box room, which he had to use as a toilet, at the family home in Coventry. They ordered him to adopt stress positions used by torturers and to go on endurance runs around the house.

When the pair believed he had misbehaved they threw him into cold baths and his mother once boasted that she had almost drowned him, while his sibling, who cannot be identified, reported that they had once seen the boy's head being held under water.

Daniel died in March last year after being hit around the head by one or both adults. His body was laid out on a bed next to his terrified sibling and Luczak and Krezolek waited more than 30 hours before calling 999.

During the trial it emerged that professionals including health workers and police had had numerous contacts with the family. Teachers at his school, Little Heath primary, had seen him scavenging for food and noticed injuries to his face but no effective action was taken to protect him.

A serious case review is being carried out by the Coventry safeguarding children board. The review has already scrutinised the actions of all the agencies involved with Daniel and the plan is to publish the findings within six weeks once new information that arose during the trial has been taken into account.

On Thursday the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, branded the treatment meted out to the boy as evil and vile. Speaking during his weekly phone-in on the London radio station LBC, Clegg said: "Clearly people must have seen something was wrong with this boy. We all ask the same questions: how did this happen? What happened when teachers saw this boy scavenging in bins, when they saw him lose all that weight? They apparently did pass information on why did no one act on it?

"So many teachers and people in the NHS and social work that I know have only the best interests of children at heart. It's not a lack of motive. But I think what people worry about is that maybe one bit of the system doesn't talk to another bit of the system."

Jurors, who had sat through a wealth of evidence charting six months of systematic abuse of the defenceless youngster, took less than four hours to unanimously convict Luczak and former soldier Krezolek, both Polish nationals, on Wednesday.

    Daniel Pelka's mother and stepfather jailed for life, G, 2.8.2013,






Daniel Pelka murder:

mother and stepfather face life sentences

Magdelena Luczak and Mariusz Krezolek
found guilty of killing boy
whose body was likened to concentration camp victim


Wednesday 31 July 2013
18.59 BST
The Guardian
Steven Morris
This article was published
on guardian.co.uk at 18.59 BST
on Wednesday 31 July 2013.
A version appeared on p5
of the Main section section
of the Guardian on Thursday 1 August 2013.
It was last modified at 00.47 BST
on Thursday 1 August 2013.


The mother and stepfather of a four-year-old boy who was battered to death after being subjected to a six-month regime of starvation and physical torture will be jailed for life on Friday after being found guilty of murdering the boy, whose body was so emaciated that one experienced health worker compared it to that of a concentration camp victim.

Jurors took under four hours to unanimously convict Daniel Pelka's mother, Magdelena Luczak, and stepfather, Mariusz Krezolek, following a nine-week trial at Birmingham crown court. A review has been launched to establish why chances to save Daniel were missed before the pair starved and killed him.

Luczak and Krezolek systematically denied the boy meals and force-fed him salt to make him vomit when he was caught sneaking extra food. He was so hungry that he stole sandwiches from other children at school and dug through bins for discarded apple cores.

The couple kept him locked for long periods in a tiny, unheated box room, which he had to use as a toilet, at the family home in Coventry. They ordered him to adopt stress positions used by torturers and to go on endurance runs around the house.

When the pair believed he had misbehaved they threw him into cold baths. His mother once boasted that she had almost drowned him, and his sibling who cannot be identified reported once having seen Daniel's head being held under water.

In March last year Daniel died after being hit around the head by one or both adults. His body was laid out on a bed next to his terrified sibling. Luczak and Krezolek waited 33 hours before calling 999.

During the trial it emerged that professionals including teachers, health workers and police had a string of contacts with the family and some had raised concerns.

A serious case review is being carried out by the Coventry safeguarding children board. The review has already scrutinised the actions of all the agencies involved with Daniel, and the plan is to publish the findings within six weeks once new information that cropped up during the trial has been taken in.

The review will examine why no action was taken after staff at Daniel's school noticed his thinness, bruising on his neck and what appeared to be two black eyes.

It will also look into contact between doctors and Daniel, who was seen by a community paediatrician and found to be underweight but not "wasted" three weeks before his death.

The review will study the way police and social services approached an incident more than a year before Daniel died when Krezolek broke the boy's arm. The couple, who are Polish nationals, claimed he had fallen off a sofa.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: "Crucial questions need to be asked about how a youngster slipped through the child protection net. The indications that Daniel was suffering for some months should have been plain to see he was disappearing in front of people's eyes."

Outside court the boy's natural father, Eryk Pelka, said: "It's a great tragedy that such a little angel had to leave this world. I hope that those responsible will be punished severely." He said he felt the authorities could have done more to protect Daniel.

Detective Inspector Christopher Hanson said Luczak, who told teachers that Daniel was so thin because he had an eating disorder, was a convincing liar. He added: "Those with the ultimate duty of care turned Daniel from a beautiful and bright-eyed little boy into a broken bag of bones."

When Daniel's body was examined, experts were shocked. Skin was hanging in folds off his thighs and arms. His tummy was tiny, his rib cage protruding and his spine was clearly visible all the way down his back. His hair was falling out. He weighed one and a half stone, the sort of weight normally associated with an 18-month-old.

One child protection expert who examined the boy said she had seen such emaciation only in pictures of concentration camp victims. A radiologist compared Daniel's frame to that of a seriously ill cancer patient, and a police detective said he looked like a child from a famine-ridden part of Africa.

After the final, fatal attack, a postmortem revealed he died of bleeding and swelling in the brain.

Krezolek, 34, and Luczak, 27, who both drank heavily and took drugs, blamed each other during the trial. Krezolek, a former soldier who worked in car factory, denied killing the boy because he was another man's son.

Both initially claimed Daniel collapsed after suffering chest pains. But detectives discovered texts exchanged between the defendants that hinted at the dreadful regime. One sent by Krezolek said: "Well now he is temporarily unconscious because I nearly drowned him."

Officers also found hand and fingerprints on the inside of the door, which had no handle, as if the child had desperately tried to get out.

Startling testimony came from Daniel's sibling, whose name, age and gender cannot be revealed. The child told police that Krezolek would prevent Daniel from eating and would hit him and put him into cold baths.

Describing the night Daniel died, the sibling said: "I tried to wake him up but I couldn't. Then I tried to listen for his heartbeat but I could not hear anything."

    Daniel Pelka murder: mother and stepfather face life sentences,
    G, 31.7.2013,






Horror film fanatic jailed for life

after 'sadistic' killing of friend


Gary George sentenced to minimum of 30 years
after Chester crown court hears of gruesome murder


Monday 25 March 2013

12.35 GMT

Last modified

on Thursday 19 June 2014 21.30 BST

The Guardian

Press Association


A horror film fanatic who killed his friend in a scene that mirrored one of his favourite spine-chillers has been jailed for life.

Gary George, 41, will serve a minimum of 30 years after he tortured and mutilated Andrew Nall, 53, in a "cruel and sadistic" attack.

George was obsessed with witchcraft and horror films, Chester crown court was told.

He particularly liked to watch The Loved Ones, a 2009 Australian film in which an attack takes place with a "chilling similarity" to the death of Nall, the court heard.

George beat his victim and inflicted 49 separate knife wounds, including a wound carved into his stomach that had salt poured on to it.

There was also a "creamy substance", thought to be cleaning fluid, found in Nall's eyes, the prosecution said.

His body was discovered lying in a pool of blood in his bedroom at his flat in Chester on 30 August last year.

After the killing George, a homeless alcoholic, went into an off-licence where he told the shop assistant: "I've just killed my best mate."

He initially denied the murder but changed his plea to guilty last week as his three-week trial was coming to a close.

Passing sentence, Judge Elgan Edwards said: "This was a cruel and vicious attack. It was also a sadistic attack.

"I am satisfied that in behaving in the way you did, you were aping the conduct in a film of which you were obsessed, namely The Loved Ones."

The judge said that he and the jury had "the misfortune" of watching the movie's murder sequence during the trial and added: "I regret to say that, as in this film, you committed many acts while the unfortunate Mr Nall was still alive.

"And that included the substance in his eyes, be that cleaning fluid, and the carving of marks upon his chest."

George, wearing a navy blue jumper, stood bolt upright in the dock with his arms behind his back and showed no emotion as his sentence was passed.

The recorder described Nall, also an alcoholic, as "vulnerable".

He added: "He was vulnerable because of the amount of drink he had taken.

"You knew he had, you took advantage of it and, putting it in a nutshell, he was no match for you.

"You killed him in a most cruel and sadistic way and you enjoyed doing so."

Nall, a former supermarket worker, was described to the jury by Ian Unsworth QC, prosecuting, as a "pleasant, polite and friendly man".

But the victim was also a heavy drinker who was in regular contact with the probation and support services, Unsworth said.

He told the trial Nall was subjected to a "brutal, ruthless and sadistic attack" in his own home.

"He was beaten, kicked and stabbed on dozens and dozens of occasions," Unsworth said. "A strange long wound was carved into his abdomen, salt was found on his wounded body. He was tortured."

George, the barrister told the trial, had a keen interest in witchcraft.

Unsworth added: "He watched horror films. One film in particular that he liked to watch was called The Loved Ones, a violent horror film.

"In a chilling precursor to what befell Andrew Nall, one scene depicts a man being stabbed on multiple occasions, his chest having a letter carved into it before salt was thrown on to the wound."

George was caught when he was arrested for assaulting another man 10 hours after the murder of Nall.

During his police interviews he disclosed that he had murdered someone, levelling false accusations that his victim was a paedophile and a rapist.

George's co-defendant, Christine Holleran, 50, was cleared of murder and manslaughter by the jury on Friday.

Holleran, who told the jury she witnessed the attack but played no part in it, shouted "justice, justice" as their majority verdict was returned.

Giving evidence, she said George was growling as he stabbed Nall, and said: "He was like the devil."

She said she then ran away from Mr Nall's flat "in a state of shock".

Horror film fanatic jailed for life after 'sadistic' killing of friend,
G, 25 MARCH 2013,






Mother jailed for life

for beating son to death

for not learning Qur'an

Sara Ege treated son Yaseen 'like a dog'
when he struggled to memorise
passages of Islamic holy book, court heard


Monday 7 January 2013
13.54 GMT
Steven Morris and agencies
This article was published on guardian.co.uk
at 13.54 GMT
on Monday 7 January 2013.
It was last modified at 14.24 GMT
on Monday 7 January 2013.
It was first published at 13.55 GMT
on Monday 7 January 2013.

A mother who beat her seven-year-old son to death for failing to learn the Qur'an by heart and then burned his body in an attempt to hide her crime has been jailed for life.

Sara Ege, 33, collapsed and had to be helped sobbing from the dock after being told on Monday she would serve 17 years before she could be considered for parole.

Cardiff crown court heard that Ege treated her son Yaseen "like a dog" when he struggled to memorise passages of the holy book of Islam. She beat him on the hands and his body until he collapsed on the floor of his bedroom and died.

Ege used barbecue lighting gel to set fire to the boy's body to try to conceal what she had done. Initially emergency services believed he had been killed in a fire at the family home in Pontcanna, Cardiff.

But a postmortem revealed he had died before the fire had begun and had suffered multiple injuries to his body caused by three months of physical punishment.

The jury was told that Ege and her husband, taxi driver Yousef Ege, 38, enrolled Yaseen in advanced classes at a local mosque because they wanted him to become Hafiz someone who memorises the Qur'an.

As a child, Ege had herself committed large sections of the book to memory and entered competitions to demonstrate her ability. But she became increasingly frustrated when her son was unable to do as well as she expected and began beating him.

Following her arrest, Ege, a mathematics graduate, confessed to killing her son.

She told police she was "getting angry too much", adding: "I would shout at Yaseen all the time. I was getting very wild and I hit Yaseen with a stick on his back like a dog."

Ege said she frequently promised herself that she would stop attacking her son but could not resist beating him. She claimed she had been urged on by the devil and bad spirits. At one point she believed the stick she used to punish her son was possessed by an evil spirit.

A teaching assistant at the boy's school noticed that his handwriting was deteriorating and discovered he was using his left hand because it was too painful for him to use his right. On another occasion Ege was called into school because he was in too much pain to sit. She moved him to a new school.

On the day her son died she told police he collapsed on the floor of his bedroom after she had beaten him and, half-conscious, continued to recite from the Qur'an.

Ege said: "He was breathing as if he was asleep when I left him. He was still murmuring the same thing over and over again. I thought that he was just tired."

She forced him to drink milk; and when she went back to him he was shaking and shivering. She did not seek medical help and the boy died. The woman then used barbecue lighting gel to set fire to his body.

Ege later retracted her account of what had happened and claimed her husband and his family had forced her to make the confession. She accused her husband, who stood trial with her, of being a violent bully and the real killer.

Yousef Ege was cleared of causing or allowing his son's death by failing to act to prevent it. Sara Ege was found guilty of the murder, which took place in July 2010, and perverting the course of justice.

Mother jailed for life for beating son to death for not learning Qur'an,




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