Peterborough man who brutally stabbed dementia sufferer in row over garden tools ‘revealed as child killer’

A man who repeatedly stabbed a dementia sufferer in a row over garden tools has been revealed as a child killer released from prison last year, the BBC reports.

Stephen Leonard (57) brutally stabbed 60-year-old Fay Mills leaving her with life-changing injuries.

The scene of Leonard's attack on Fay Mills

The scene of Leonard's attack on Fay Mills

Leonard, from St Michael’s Gate, Parnwell, Peterborough, pleaded not guilty to attempted murder but was found guilty at Cambridge Crown Court on December 6.

Today (Boxing Day) the BBC has revealed Leonard was formally known as Stephen Chafer and was jailed for sexually assaulting and stabbing to death three-year-old Lorraine Holt in Derby on January 20, 1979.

Lorraine’s father Jim Holt, who was friends with Chafer, told the BBC the decision to release him had “destroyed a family”.

Lorraine was playing in the back garden of her Derby home on January 20, 1979, when she wandered off.

After finding her, Chafer gave the young child sweets before taking her to a local vicarage, where he covered her mouth and sexually assaulted her before stabbing her 39 times.

He later pleaded guilty to murder and was jailed, before being released in 2002. He was jailed again for arson years later but was released in August 2017, the BBC says.

Earlier this month jurors heard Mrs Mills, who suffers from dementia, asthma and has had a series of strokes, was alone at home when Leonard paid her a visit on Saturday, June 23.

The pair got into an argument about whether Leonard could borrow gardening equipment, during which Leonard claimed a “switch flicked in his head” and he began to attack Mrs Mills in an attempt to stop her shouting at him.

He only stopped his frenzied attack when Mr Patchett - a neighbour - and his wife came to check on Mrs Mills after hearing her screams.

When Leonard answered the door he was described as covered in blood and when Mr Patchett requested to see Mrs Mills he lunged at him with the knife.

Mr Patchett and his wife went to call the police and Leonard left the property, leaving Mrs Mills for dead.

He was later arrested by police in the garden of his home after he had armed himself with a knife.

In addition to the attempted murder charge, he was found guilty of common assault after wounding Mr Patchett.

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 has been found guilty of these offences and I hope he receives a sentence which reflects the horror and brutality of this crime.”

A Parole Board spokesman said it was “rare” for released offenders to go on to commit serious offences.

He added: “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.”

Leonard is due to be sentenced on January 4.

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