Axe murderer “wanted to know what it was like to kill someone”
A 33-year-old man has been jailed for life to serve a minimum of 18 years for the murder of a man he struck with an axe up to 25 times after taking a legal high.
Brendon Willis, of no fixed address, was sentenced at Winchester Crown Court having previously pleaded guilty to the murder of 27-year-old Christopher Butler on New Year's Eve.
The court heard that Willis had told friends before the attack that he had wanted to know what it would be like to murder someone. He blamed the legal high, Spice, which he said made him violent.
Police launched a murder investigation after the body of Mr Butler was discovered at an address in Waverley Road, Southsea, Hampshire at 12.30am on January 1 2016.
Gavin Sumpter, of the Crown Prosecution Service in Wessex, said: "This is a tragic case, where a young man, Christopher Butler lost his life at the hands of Brendan Willis who, on New Year's Eve 2015, attacked Mr Butler by hitting him up to 25 times with an axe in what was a premeditated, extremely violent and gratuitous attack.
"Whilst Brendon Willis was in prison in 2015 he confided to a psychiatrist that he was concerned he might hurt someone.
"Shortly before Christopher's murder he told others that had been wondering what it would be like to murder someone, saying: 'I want to see what it's like to kill someone. I've got an axe. I want to do it before New Year, I want to be famous. Blame it on Spice. You smoke it and it makes you go mad. It makes you violent.'
"Spice was a name of a legal high that Willis was using at the time of the murder. It has since been made an illegal psychoactive substance.
"We hope that this conviction and sentence will provide Christopher's family with some kind of comfort but acknowledge that this will never bring him back. Our thoughts are with them."
Detective Superintendent Becky Riggs, of Hampshire police, said: "This was an unprovoked, brutal murder, in which Brendon Willis used an axe to kill Christopher Butler.
"Thankfully this type of crime is not common and it became clear in the very early stages of the investigation that it was most likely that the victim and the offender were known to each other.
"This was a particularly challenging investigation because the number of people we needed to speak to and their reluctance to speak to the police; however I am pleased that our hard work paid off and resulted in Willis pleading guilty to murder at his first court hearing.
"I hope today's sentence goes some way to giving Christopher's family closure."