By Lauren Dorling at the Old Bailey
A teenage killer caught on the prowl for his third victim shrugged his shoulders as he was sentenced to a minimum of 27 years in prison for the murders of two strangers in Colchester.
James Fairweather showed no remorse, mouthing “I don’t give a s**t” to his weeping mother.
The 17 year old blew his parents a kiss as he was led out of the dock at the Old Bailey – his father shaking his head in disbelief.
Fairweather, who was 15 at the time of the killings, was found guilty of murder at Guildford Crown Court last week after a jury reached a unanimous verdict.
Judge Justice Robin Spencer told the teenager that had he been older he would have been sentenced to life imprisonment for the “violent, sadistic” killings of James Attfield, 33, and Nahid Almanea, 31.
Mr Justice Spencer said it was plain to see that Fairweather was seeking to emulate other serial killers when he stabbed Mr. Attfield 102 times as he lay sleeping in Castle Park, Colchester, describing it as a “brutal, relentless, cowardly attack.”
“I have no doubt the way James Attfield screamed when you stabbed him in the eye remained with you and excited you,” he said.
The court heard that Julie Finch, the mother of James Attfield, couldn’t work after the death of her son and had to sell her home as a result.
It also heard a victim impact statement from the brother of Nahid Almanea, who was attacked whilst walking on Salary Brook Trail.
He said that the loss of his sister had “crippled” the family and the tears were never dry from his mother’s eyes.
“Nahid deserved the right to live her life. She deserved the right for her dreams to come true,” he wrote.
Fairweather had admitted to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, claiming that voices in his head had ordered him to kill.
His defence had argued that a combination of bullying, undiagnosed and untreated autism, and the onset of a psychopathic personality disorder had severely impaired his mental function, calling it “abnormal.”
But the judge said: “A lot of people suffer from autism. It would be an unfair and unjustified slur on them to suggest that autism predisposes someone to commit acts of violence.”
He also took into account the “lack of consistency” in the teenager’s mention of the voices, the nature of the killings, which he said were in conflict with Fairweather’s account that he had erupted in a sudden rage, and the undeniable premeditation.
“You knew exactly what you were intending to do and you achieved it,” he ruled.
Fairweather was arrested in May 2015 after a woman saw him lurking near the same spot where he had murdered his second victim.
When arrested, he told officers that he was planning to kill again and spoke with chilling candidness about the previous two murders and his obsession with the Yorkshire Ripper, US killer Ted Bundy, and Ipswich killer Steve Wright.
He confessed that he wanted to imitate his “idols” and aspired to be a serial killer.
He was known to the police prior to his arrest, having been convicted of a knifepoint robbery and sentenced to a youth referral order in the days before his first attack.
His history of knife crime led him to be questioned in the weeks after Almanea’s death, but he was released due to a lack of evidence linking him to the crime.
When asked how he managed to commit two murders whilst subject to a referral order, an Essex County Council spokesman said that such orders do not warrant full supervision, adding that a review of his case showed that nothing could have prevented the two events.
Speaking after the sentencing, Assistant Chief Constable Steve Worron, head of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “The ferocious nature of the killings had a massive impact on the Colchester community, striking fear and tension among the town’s residents for 14 months.
“The community came together and helped us bring this killer to justice. Confidence returned over time and that was due to the strength and resilience of the local people.”
The year long operation to find Fairweather cost £2.6 million. 3,000 attack alarms were additionally issued during that time to people who felt frightened; but the judge said the “period of terror” was finally over now that the killer had been caught.