Friday 24 November 2017

Dad jailed for axe killing of wife and daughter

Dave Higgens

A FOUR-YEAR-OLD girl was left for at least 12 hours in a house with the bodies of her mother and sister after her "jealous and controlling" father killed them in an "appalling" axe and knife attack, a court has heard.

John Miller (38) left his partner, deputy headteacher Sarah Laycock (31) and their daughter Abigail (8) with terrible injuries at their home in Garforth, Leeds.

Leeds Crown Court heard how the couple's four-year-old daughter, Amelia, was in the house as cannabis abuser Miller carried out the murders during a psychotic episode. She then spent at least 12 hours by herself before police discovered the terrible scene.

The court heard that the youngster had been left so terrified of her father she now asks relatives: "What is the size of the padlock on daddy's door?"

Miller denied murder but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He was given a life sentence and must serve a minimum of 15 years.

In a statement read to the court, Miss Laycock's father, Christopher, said: "I've had no reprieve, no release for good behaviour. My daughter and grand-daughter – brutally and violently murdered, their basic human rights removed, their right to live."

DEVASTATED

The judge said Miller had appeared to show some remorse but in reality his only concern was whether he could rebuild his relationship with his daughter. There were gasps of disbelief from Miss Laycock's family in the public gallery at this.

Sentencing Miller, the judge said: "To kill your partner in this way and kill your defenceless daughter were particularly heinous crimes and have to be considered against the background of jealous and controlling behaviour."

He said he would have sentenced Miller to life in prison with a minimum of about 32 years if he had been convicted of murder instead of manslaughter. Miller was led away showing no emotion.

Miss Laycock's family issued a statement which said: "We have had to accept that Miller could only plead guilty to manslaughter with diminished responsibility.

"We will never come to terms with Miller's reasons why he killed Sarah and Abi; the graphic details are truly horrendous.

"John Miller has destroyed our lives. The hurt and pain we feel for the loss of Sarah and Abi are very, very difficult to deal with. No custodial sentence could ever be long enough."

Detective Superintendent Lisa Griffin, who led the inquiry, said: "John Miller killed his partner Sarah Laycock and their young daughter Abigail during an appallingly violent episode in the family home during which he inflicted terrible injuries on them.

"Their deaths have left their family and friends devastated and two school communities shocked and upset.

"The public may ask why it has taken so long for this case to conclude. This is entirely due to the mental health of Miller, who was detained in long-term psychiatric care until such time as he was deemed fit to face the criminal justice process. The family endured this agonising time with amazing strength, courage and dignity.

"He pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charges on the grounds of diminished responsibility. Several forensic psychiatrists agree that he was acutely and seriously mentally ill at the time of the offences.

"The reason why his violence was directed at those closest to him can only be attributed to Miller's psychosis. He was delusional and out of control.

"Sarah Laycock was a loyal partner, a loving mother and a hard-working deputy headteacher. She did nothing to provoke her violent death and everything to love and protect her children. Her loss can only be described as devastating to all who had the pleasure of knowing her."

Irish Independent

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