Headless corpse murder: 17 years

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A VICIOUS killer who mutilated his 17-year-old victim before dumping his dismembered body in a hotel swill bin has been told he must serve a minimum of 17 years behind bars.

Top judge, Mr Justice Owen, ruled that was the least Stuart Michael Diamond deserved for the "devastating" impact of Christopher Hartley's horrific murder on his family.

Christopher – a 17-year-old homeless heroin addict and a "complete stranger" to Diamond – met his death after being lured back to Diamond's Park Road flat in Blackpool on December 30, 1997.

The teenager's dismembered body was found in a swill bin outside the New Central Hotel in Reads Avenue in the early hours of the same day.

His head was never recovered.

Diamond had to be extradited from his native Ireland to face trial, but was finally convicted of murder in January 1999 and was jailed for life.

Mr Justice Owen ruled at London's Royal Courts of Justice that Diamond must serve a minimum "tariff" of 17 years behind bars, less the one-year he spent on remand before sentence.

That means Diamond can have no hope of release before early 2015.

Even then, he will only be freed if he can persuade the Parole Board he poses no danger to the public.

Diamond killed Christopher while on parole from a young offenders' institution. He had been released early for good behaviour.

The judge said he had taken into account a moving statement from Christopher's father, Philip Hartley, who described "the devastating effect of his son's murder has had on his parents and siblings.

Diamond had two previous convictions for violence. In 1993 he was handed a 30-month term for wounding with intent. In 1998 he was given an 18-month term for causing grievous bodily harm.