Murdered girl’s dad says he ‘knew killer would offend again’ as attacker is convicted of attempted murder

Stephen Leonard
Stephen Leonard

The father of a girl murdered by a Peterborough man who has been convicted of attempting to kill a vulnerable woman has said he ‘knew’ the killer would offend again.

Stephen Leonard - previously known as Stephen Chafer - was jailed for life for sexually assaulting Lorraine Holt, aged just three, before knifing her to death in 1979.

Mark Patchett

Mark Patchett

Now aged 57, he was this month convicted of the attempted murder of 60-year-old Faye Mills at her home in Viney Close, Eastfield, Peterborough in another frenzied knife attack.

Lorraine’s father Jim Holt told the BBC: “Because all of this has happened it’s brought all of [Lorraine’s death] back, not just to me, but to the whole of my family.”

The toddler was playing in the snow outside her family home but wandered off, and was later found by Chafer sitting alone crying.

Leonard, who was Lorraine’s relative through marriage, carried her to the grounds of the nearby vicarage, where he sexually assaulted her before stabbing her 39 times.

Faye Mills

Faye Mills

He admitted her 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.

Chafer was convicted earlier this month of the attempted murder of 60-year-old dementia sufferer Faye Mills on June 23 2018 at her home in Peterborough, Police said.

At his trial at Cambridge Crown Court, the court heard he launched a frenzied attack on Mrs Mills - whom he had known for around 15 years - following a row about a rake.

Mrs Mills’ injuries were so acute that when police arrived they believed she was already dead but she survived.

The defendant claimed a “switch flicked in his head” but was convicted of attempted murder and the common assault of her neighbour Mark Patchett when he tried to come to Mrs Mills’ aid, police said.

He lunged at Mr Patchett with the knife before fleeing the property and leaving Mrs Mills for dead.

Mr Holt told the BBC he hoped authorities “lock him up and keep him locked up because if he comes out again he’ll destroy another family”.

“He won’t go away because he gets a buzz out of it, that’s my personal opinion,” he said.

Mr Holt, who now lives in Nottingham, added: “I knew he was out and knew at the back of my mind he would re-offend.

“Then I hear from the police and he’s back inside for arson and I’m like ‘so you’ve had him twice and you’ve let him go?’.

“Now this has happened to the Mills family.”

Mr Patchett, 48, told the Press Association: “I found out not so long ago that [Chafer] had been in prison for the murder of a three-year-old.

“I think it’s disgusting and I think he never should have been let out.”

He described hearing Mrs Mills’ screams, saying: “He was torturing her - he stabbed her more than 30 times. I think he might have been trying to cut her head off.”

He added: “He lunged at me with a knife but I swerved it and he just skimmed my face - if I hadn’t pulled away I might not have been here today.”

More: Jurors sobbed after hearing truth about child killer who ‘nearly decapitated’ Peterborough woman in frenzied attack