24 years for grandmother murderer
A cannabis user who murdered his 84-year-old grandmother by stabbing her 50 times in her bed and then attempted to kill a nine-year-old boy has been told he must serve minimum of 24 years in prison.
A judge told Nathaniel Flynn, 27, that the most likely explanation for why he killed retired teacher Louisa Denby was that "she just got on your nerves".
Flynn admitted killing Ms Denby at their home in Shipley, West Yorkshire, in July, and stabbing Jason D'Arcy in a nearby skate park later the same day.
Bradford Crown Court heard that Jason suffered a shallow wound to his chest and a much more serious injury to his arm as he tried to defend himself.
Mr Justice Keith sentenced Flynn to life in prison today.
The judge heard that three psychiatrists found he had no diagnosable mental illness but said he had been influenced by his heavy, "entrenched" use of cannabis and other drugs.
Flynn ordered an SAS survival guide, two knives, tarpaulin and rope from the internet in the days before he killed his grandmother, the judge was told.
Police believe one of the knives he ordered was used in the attacks, although the weapon has never been recovered.
The court was told that Flynn was still wearing pyjamas when he walked into Ms Denby's bedroom some time on the morning of July 1.
He later told a psychiatrist that he thought his grandmother was "deteriorating" and wanted to end it for her, despite there being no evidence from anyone else in the family that Ms Denby had any problems.
The judge heard that he told the doctor: "I got her a cup of tea and said 'I love you' and then I attacked her."
He also said: "I'd just given up on trying to talk to her."
The packed courtroom was shown diagrams of the 50 wounds to the pensioner's body inflicted by Flynn.
Adrian Waterman QC, prosecuting, took the judge through Flynn's movements after he left the house he shared with his grandmother in Prospect Mount, Shipley.
This culminated in the random attack on Jason at the Carnegie skate park, where the youngster had been playing as usual and was setting off home for a drink.
The court heard a dramatic account of how the nine-year-old ran home after he was stabbed twice and was then given vital first aid to stem the flow of blood by his father, Lee D'Arcy.
There was so much blood on Mr D'Arcy's phone that he struggled to ring an ambulance, the judge was told.
Jason suffered serious nerve damage to his hand which may be permanent, the court heard.
The schoolboy later told police: "He went for my heart."
Mr Waterman said Flynn then tried to approach an eight-year-old girl, Ellie Palomar, who was playing in her garden nearby.
Later, the court heard, he moved to the Idle area of Bradford, where he attacked Terence Thackray, who challenged Flynn as he tried to climb a wall into a school.
The court was also told there was evidence that Flynn had hidden for some time in a den at a nursery school.
Mr Waterman said Flynn was finally detained by an armed police officer in the early hours of the next morning.
He was carrying a set of garden shears at the time.
The court heard that Flynn had lived in the United States for much of his life, although he was born in Bradford.
He returned to the UK about two years ago and was living with his grandmother but his relationship with her was difficult and his attitude towards her worried members of the extended family.
Mr Waterman said arguments were mainly about money and police were called to the house on two occasions by worried neighbours.
The prosecutor said Flynn had a long history of drug use and he had a conviction for cocaine-related offences in the US.
The judge told him: "You were an entrenched user of drugs before this and it looks as if your use of cannabis resulted in a deterioration of your mental function so you became so disinhibited that you did whatever you felt like doing, even though you knew it was wrong."
The judge said: "You said you killed your grandmother, in effect, as an act of mercy. A more likely explanation was that she just got on your nerves."
The judge said that once Flynn had killed his grandmother any other inhibitions he may have had about killing people "disintegrated".
He said Ms Denby's death was "horrific".
The judge fixed a 24-year minimum term for the murder. He also sentenced Flynn to 14 years for the attempted murder of Jason but said this was to run concurrently to the life sentence.
Flynn admitted both offences at a previous hearing.
Today, he sat quietly in the dock listening to proceedings, flanked by three prison officers.
Wearing black-rimmed glasses and a short sleeved, open-necked blue shirt, he was watched by many members of his own family and also Jason's family for the two-hour sentencing hearing.
Ms Denby's family issued a statement which said: "The sudden horrific murder of our mother has had a devastating effect on our family. Now we hope to rebuild our lives, although our mother will never be forgotten.
"We would also like to thank the police for all their support, hard work and results over the past few months, for which we are truly grateful.
"We would like to thank our family and friends for their support during what has been a difficult time, along with the emergency services who responded swiftly to the incident.
"We would also like to thank the police officers who have given us great comfort and reassurance with their support and the way they have handled the investigation."
Jason's father said in a statement: " We would like to thank our family and friends for their support during what has been a difficult time, along with the emergency services who responded swiftly to the incident.
"We would also like to thank the police officers who have given us great comfort and reassurance with their support and the way they have handled the investigation.
"Jason is still recovering from what happened that day, but he is making very good progress and we are hopeful that the support he has been given by everyone will aid him in his recovery."
Detective Chief Inspector Nick Wallen, of West Yorkshire Police, said: " The attack on Louisa was brutal and frenzied and we can only imagine the impact of Flynn's actions upon her family who continue to suffer from the consequences of her loss to this day. Louisa was a lovely lady and our thoughts remain with her family at this time.
"I also want to commend the courage of Jason D'Arcy, who suffered a terrifying attack at the hands of Flynn and yet who has shown great strength in recovering, as have his family in supporting him.
"Finally, on behalf of West Yorkshire Police, I would again like to pay tribute to the people of Shipley who assisted the police to quickly detain and arrest Nathaniel Flynn.
"Policing works at its best when supported by members of the local community, and that support was truly there.
"This was a truly isolated and deeply unusual incident quite unlike any I have encountered in my career as a police officer and it is to their credit that residents have not allowed it to affect their day-to-day lives."