Child killer who brutally stabbed Peterborough pensioner with dementia given life sentence for a second time

A child killer who brutally stabbed a pensioner with dementia has been jailed for life for the second time.

Friday, 4th January 2019, 12:09 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 2:22 pm

Stephen Leonard - previously known as Stephen Chafer - will serve 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.

Leonard was previously jailed for life when he was 17 for sexually abusing and murdering three-year-old Lorraine Holt in Derby in 1979.

He stabbed the innocent young girl 39 times in the attack after abusing her in the vicarage. He served 23 years in prison before his release in 2002.

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Stephen Leonard

Now 57, Leonard of St Michael’s Gate, Parnwell, Peterborough, was last month found guilty of the attempted murder of 60-year-old Fay Mills at her home in Viney Close, Eastfield, Peterborough, after he stabbed her numerous times, nearly decapitating her.

The attack followed Mrs Mills telling Leonard he could not borrow her garden tools.

When police arrived they believed she had died. Miraculously, she survived the attack.

Jurors at Cambridge Crown Court found him guilty of the attempted murder of Mrs Mills and of the common assault of her neighbour Mark Patchett, who tried to go to her aid. But during the trial they were unaware of Leonard’s previous history for murder and were only told after returning their guilty verdicts, leaving some of them to sob.

The jury were not told of Leonard’s previous conviction for murder after the judge trying the case ruled it may influence their deliberations.

Sentencing him at Cambridge Crown Court today (Friday, January 4), Judge David Farrell QC told Leonard: “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.”

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

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

Leonard was also jailed for arson more than 10 years after he committed the murder - but was released a year before committing the latest attack.

Detective Inspector Lucy Thomson said: “When officers arrived at Mrs Mills’ home they believed she was dead due to the substantial injuries she had sustained.

“She was a frail and vulnerable woman who was attacked at home by someone she considered a friend and her life has changed irreparably due to her extensive injuries.

“I am pleased Leonard was found guilty of the offences and the prison sentence reflects the horror and brutality of this crime.”