Horror fan kills best pal in scene which mirrored spine-chiller movie
A horror film fanatic who killed his friend in a scene which 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 "chilling similarity" to the death of Mr Nall, the court heard.
George beat his victim and inflicted 49 separate knife wounds, including a wound carved into his stomach which had salt poured onto it.
There was also a "creamy substance", thought to be cleaning fluid, found in Mr Nall's eyes, the prosecution said.
His body was discovered lying in a pool of blood in his bedroom at his flat in Liverpool Road, Chester, on August 30 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 today, the Recorder of Chester, 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 he and the jury had 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 flanked by two custody officers.
He showed no emotion as his sentence was passed.
The Recorder described Mr 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."
Mr Nall, a former supermarket worker, was described to the trial 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, Mr Unsworth said.
He told the trial Mr 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," Mr 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.
Mr 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 Mr 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 Mr Nall, and said: "He was like the devil."
She said she then ran away from Mr Nall's flat "in a state of shock".
In an emotional victim impact statement, which was read to the court, Mr Nall's sister Fiona Hall said the family had been left "reeling" by his untimely death.
"Never did any of his family expect to have to deal with the aftermath of such a heinous crime," Mrs Hall's statement, read by Mr Unsworth, said.
She said her brother had "struggled" with alcohol for many years but was determined to turn his life around.
Mrs Hall added: "Andrew was kind, considerate and would help others without a second thought.
"He was an engaging conversationalist, with a strong intellect and a quick wit.
"Those close to him are broken-hearted by their loss."
She recalled what would have been his birthday earlier this month, when the trial watched a "shocking" video of his "mutilated body lying in his own bedroom where he should have been safe".
Mrs Hall added: "(It was) a wholly undignified end indeed to a life cut short at the hands of someone to whom he had extended the hand of friendship."
The family made no comment following today's hearing.
George was also sentenced to 12 years today, concurrent to the life term, for the second attack which followed the murder of Mr Nall.
The court heard he broke a bottle and slashed the hand and head of a man.
George was convicted of grievous bodily harm for the second attack, which the Recorder said "caused the most awful injuries to his victim".
Gordon Cole, QC, defending said in mitigation that George had a long history of alcoholism.
Although no firm motive for the attack on Mr Nall was ever established, Mr Cole suggested: "Something was said to Mr George which may well have been the catalyst.
"Set against, of course, the enormous amount of alcohol which had been consumed."