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Friday, December 12, 2008

UK- Paedophile vigilantes face life terms

2-22-2002 United Kingdom:

Retired sea captain murdered after he was cleared of indecently assaulting nine-year-old girl

Two self-appointed "paedophile vigilantes" face life sentences for the murder of a retired sea captain committed according to a plan drawn up by a teenage girl high on cannabis and alcohol.

Pub cellarman Ian Lawless, 40, and his jobless godson Gary Lawson, 19, shouted abuse as they were found guilty of setting fire to the Grimsby flat of Alf Wilkins, 67, a former deep sea fisherman and tugboat captain who had been cleared of indecently assaulting a nine-year-old girl.

Two other neighbours on the Yarborough estate in Grimsby were also convicted for their part in the murder. Mr Wilkins died of smoke inhalation after the pair set fire to his flat by igniting an accelerant they had poured through his letter box.

Chantelle Day, 17, who drew up the murder plan, will be sentenced later for conspiracy, while Gary Fairbanks, 43, was given two years for intimidating a witness.

After the five week trial at Hull crown court, Detective Superintendent Gavin Baggs, who led the murder inquiry, warned the case sent "a strong message about what happens to people who chose to take the law into their own hands".

He said: "Alfred Wilkins was a well liked old man who kept himself to himself, but who was tormented by criminal offences founded by speculation. We are particularly grateful to witnesses who bravely spoke out, sometimes against neighbours, friends and relatives."

Lawson and Lawless - who was described as obnoxious by his QC - both claimed that their actions had widespread support on the estate.

The trial heard that the pensioner, who was waiting for a hip operation, had been targeted ruthlessly - taunted in the street and savagely beaten a week before his death by two hooded men who burst into his graffiti-sprayed flat.

He led a lonely life and had befriended some of the children on the estate, but those involved with the murderous gang repaid him with vicious rumour-mongering and steadily worsening violence.

The trial was told that a murder plot was hatched over drunken drug-taking sessions, based on an illiterate blueprint drawn up by Day, who was then Lawson's 16-year-old girlfriend. This proposed not only a variety of ways of killing Wilkins but also gave details of alibis for those involved.

Extracts read to the jury included: "Put some socks in his mouth with some Sellotape over it. Pour petrol all over his flat and all over him. Then set him on fire. Then set fire to his flat making sure it is all blown up with him in it."

The trial heard details of Lawless's chronic drunkenness and fantasies, which included an attempt to persuade fellow prisoners on remand that he was a member of the Taliban. Lawson meanwhile openly boasted of the day that turpentine was poured through Wilkins's letterbox and set alight: "He is going to get done in. I am going to do it. He is going to get blown up."

The day after his victim's flat had been left a blackened ruin, he said to a friend: "I told you I would do him in. I killed Alf."

Wilkins's suffocated body was found in the kitchen of his flat in February last year with the word "Nonce" - prison slang for sex offender - scrawled on the window, and his 12-year-old black alsatian Lucky lying nearby. Lawson told Humberside police detectives after his arrest: "When it became known Alf was dead, everyone wanted to party."

Fairbanks was found not guilty of incitement to murder but admitted telling a witness Mandy Tasker, his next-door neighbour: "Tasker, you're a fucking grass. I am going to petrol bomb your house." ..Source.. by Martin Wainwright

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