Child killer jailed for life after attacking elderly woman with knife

Convicted killer Stephen Chafer - who knifed a three-year-old girl to death in 1979 - has been sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court to life in prison with a minimum term of 17 years for the attempted murder of a woman in 2018 while he was released from prison on licence.
Convicted killer Stephen Chafer - who knifed a three-year-old girl to death in 1979 - has been sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court to life in prison with a minimum term of 17 years for the attempted murder of a woman in 2018 while he was released from prison on licence.
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A man who murdered a three-year-old girl in 1979 has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 17 years for the attempted murder of a woman in a row over a garden rake while he was released from prison on licence.

Stephen Chafer was 17 when he was jailed for life for sexually assaulting three-year-old Lorraine Holt, before knifing her to death.

He found her sitting in the snow in tears near her home in Derby, then carried her to a nearby vicarage where he sexually assaulted her and stabbed her 39 times.

Now aged 57, he was living under the pseudonym Stephen Leonard when he launched a frenzied knife attack on 60-year-old Fay Mills.

Mrs Mills, who has dementia, was so badly injured that police believed she was already dead when they arrived at her Peterborough home on June 23 last year.

Chafer was convicted at trial in December last year of the attempted murder of Mrs Mills and of the common assault of her neighbour Mark Patchett, who tried to go to her aid.

He was sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court on Friday, where he appeared under his pseudonym.

Judge David Farrell QC told him: "The worrying aspect of this offence is, as with the previous murder, that you have attacked a particularly vulnerable person and the attack was with a knife with particular severity."

He said Chafer, who he described as a "serious risk to members of the public and particularly women", would be 74 years of age before he could be considered for release from prison.

"I consider the parole board to consider the sentencing remarks that I make today," he said.

Flanked by three security officers in the dock, Chafer looked downwards throughout the hearing and showed no reaction as he was led to the cells.

Mr Patchett, who previously served in the Armed Forces, suffered a cut to his face as he confronted Chafer.

Mr Patchett said in a statement that the scene was "like a house of horrors ... with blood everywhere".

Judge Farrell ruled that £750 be awarded to Mr Patchett in recognition of his bravery.

Prosecutor Charles Falk said it was "frankly a miracle that (Mrs Mills) has survived".

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The court heard that Mrs Mills's daughter Sheila Mills had gone away to Kent on the weekend her mother was attacked and believed her mother was in the care of a "close friend".

Mr Falk, summarising a victim impact statement from Sheila Mills, said: "She trusted Stephen with everything. He betrayed her trust. She cannot understand how wrong she could have been."

Jim Holt, the father of Lorraine Holt, has criticised the Parole Board for giving Chafer the chance to reoffend.

Mr Holt, who now lives in Nottingham and was in court to see Chafer sentenced, said outside court: "I think the Parole Board should look long and hard at some of their decisions because they were warned that he would reoffend.

"I warned them personally that he would reoffend."

Chafer was 6ft tall and weighed 17 stone when he attacked vulnerable Mrs Mills, who weighed six stone and was 5ft tall, the court heard.

Chafer claimed a "switch flicked in his head" as they argued, and the court heard he stabbed her about 17 times.

In a statement read outside court by Detective Inspector Lucy Thomson, the Mills family said: "We'd like to say that we are very pleased with the life sentence that's been given to Stephen Leonard and we're pleased that we have some justice for our mum.

"We feel so sorry that Jim Holt's family had to relive their trauma through this case.

"Our mum continues to fight every day and we hope that one day we'll have her home so we can be a family."

Chafer admitted Lorraine Holt's murder and was granted parole, after serving 23 years, in 2002.

He was returned to prison in 2013 for torching his flat, risking the lives of the other residents in the building, but was released again in 2017.

Andrew Radcliffe QC, mitigating for Chafer, said the defendant suffers from "multiple mental disorders".

A spokeswoman for the Parole Board said in an earlier statement: "The Parole Board directed the release of Stephen Leonard following an oral hearing in July 2017.

"Tragically, there are rare occasions when offenders go on to commit serious further offences after being released by the Parole Board.

"Whilst this represents an extremely small proportion of cases considered, we do take each case extremely seriously and work with others in the criminal justice system to ensure that lessons are learned to help to prevent further tragedies."