A teenager who was found guilty of murdering two people in random attacks in Colchester when he was 15 has been jailed for a minimum of 27 years. James Fairweather, now 17, was described as having an obsession with serial killers and was "turned on" by notorious murderers such as Ian Huntley, Myra Hindley and Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe.
This obsession led to him deciding to carry out two murders himself, stabbing James Attfield more than 100 times during a "frenzied" attack in Castle Park in March 2014 before going on to kill Nahid Almanea, a student at the University of Essex, on the Salary Brook Trail in June 2014. Upon sentencing at the Old Bailey, Judge Justice Spencer said it was plain to see Fairweather was "seeking to emulate" other serial killers when he committed the "sadistic" acts.
Spencer added: "In committing these murders you were acting out your violent sadistic fantasies which had been fuelled by your obsession with serial killers. You had immersed yourself in that obsession for several months at least, reading about serial killers on the internet and in books, and watching DVDs.
"From the materials found in your home and on your phone, and from what you told the psychiatrists at various times, it is plain that in carrying out these two murders you were seeking to emulate other serial killers, such as Peter Sutcliffe."
Following the murder of Almanea as a result of 16 stabs wounds, police believed both victims were randomly targeted by the same suspect because of the "striking similarities" in how they were murdered despite the fact there was nothing to link the two victims. Essex police was forced to issue a warning for people not to travel alone at night over fears the killer could strike again.
When Fairweather was arrested in May 2015, he was carrying a lock knife and police believe he was searching for a third victim in the same location where he murdered Attfield, a vulnerable man who suffered a brain injury after being hit by a car in 2011.
The youth admitted killing both his victims and pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, claiming voices in his head told him: "You need to make a sacrifice or we're going to come and get you." However, Essex Police and the CPS did not accept this plea and he faced a trial by jury which found him guilty of the premeditated killings.
After being found guilty of two counts of murder following a trial at Guildford crown court, Fairweather has now been jailed for 27 years for the "horrific crimes" he committed as a child. Paul Scothern, head of CPS East of England's Complex Casework Unit, said: "This was a shocking case, particularly because of the young age of the defendant at the time, because of the brutal attacks he carried out, and because those attacks were entirely random.
"He did not know either James Attfield or Nahid Almanea, the victims did not know each other, and the defendant had no reason to attack them except that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Worron, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: "These were horrific crimes where two people lost their lives in tragic circumstances. The defendent admitted killing James and Nahid but denied their murder was calculated and pre-planned. He then forced their families to endure the pain and grief of a trial rather than just admitting that he killed them in cold blood.