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Sadistic teen loses appeal over horrific knife murders sentence

James Fairweather
James Fairweather

Sadistic teenager James Fairweather, who stabbed two strangers to death, has lost his appeal against a minimum term of 27 years' detention.

Lord Justice Treacy in the Court of Appeal said on Wednesday: "We are not persuaded it was manifestly excessive in an extremely serious case in which an experienced trial judge took much care over the process of sentencing."

Fairweather was 15 years old when he terrorised Colchester in Essex in 2014 by carrying out horrific random attacks on James Attfield and Nahid Almanea.

Despite claiming he was possessed by the devil, he was found guilty of the murders and in April was sentenced at the Old Bailey by Mr Justice Spencer, who said the killings were "brutal and sadistic".

Lawyers for Fairweather argued that the trial judge failed to give sufficient weight to his age at the time of the murders or the abnormality of his mental function, but the appeal judges said Mr Justice Spencer had this well in mind and could not be faulted.

"In the circumstances we are not persuaded that the judge fell into error in fixing the minimum term which he did."

Inspired by notorious serial killers, Fairweather stabbed 33-year-old Mr Attfield 102 times as he lay drunk and helpless in a park in Colchester in March 2014.

Three months later, he went on to seek out a second vulnerable victim - 5ft tall Essex University student Miss Almanea.

The petite 31-year-old was attacked with a bayonet and stabbed in both eyes as she walked alone along the Salary Brook nature trail in broad daylight.

Fairweather was prowling the same area for a third victim when police finally stopped his killing spree in its tracks in May 2015. At the time of his arrest, he was wearing gloves and armed with a lock knife.

He was "turned on" by serial killers and researched Ian Huntley, Myra Hindley and Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, of whom he had a picture on his phone.

Fairweather, who has autism, had been playing violent computer games Call Of Duty and Grand Theft Auto since he was 13 years old.

He also had a stash of horror films including Wrong Turn: The Carnage Collection, a DVD about Sutcliffe and a book called The World's Worst Crimes.

He admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, claiming he believed he was possessed by the devil and heard voices that compelled him to kill.

But he was convicted of murder after an expert told his trial that his description of the hallucinations sounded like something plucked from a horror film.