Killer tortured and murdered auntie and grandmother at Shirebrook home

A mentally-ill killer drowned his auntie and strangled his grandmother to death at his aunt's home in Shirebrook.

Friday, 18th November 2016, 3:05 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd November 2016, 12:07 pm
Julie Hill (left), 51, and her mother Rose Hill, 75
Julie Hill (left), 51, and her mother Rose Hill, 75

Nottingham Crown Court heard 21-year-old Christopher Whelan, killed Julie Hill, aged 51, and her mother Rose Hill, 75, whose bodies were found by the emergency services at Julie Hill’s house on Station Road, Shirebrook, on February 26.

Whelan denied two counts of murder but admitted two counts of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility due to his mental status which was accepted by the prosecution and the judge, Mrs Justice Dame Sue Carr.

Michael Evans QC, prosecuting, said Julie Hill’s son Liam Parker was the first to find her body shortly before paramedics arrived.

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Police investigated the crime scene in Station Road, Shirebrook for days afterwards.

He said: “Her body was found by her son face down in a bath full of water which was still running.

“Rose Hill’s body was found at the base of steps in the cellar. Post mortem results indicated they had been subjected to prolonged and particularly brutal attacks. The attacks were to some extent planned and sustained and brutal.

“There was a clear intention to kill both victims.”

A post-mortem examination revealed Julie Hill had suffered wounds on her fingers and forearms and puncture wounds, bruising and lacerations and a tooth had become lodged in her throat.

Police investigated the crime scene in Station Road, Shirebrook for days afterwards.

Mr Evans said she had been drowned.

Rose Hill, of Crosspool, Sheffield, died from strangulation, according to post mortem results, with bruising around her throat and other injuries to her face, arm, hand and legs and a laceration to her forearm.

The court heard Rose Hill was found near a chair which was dripping with blood and there were blood stains in both the bathroom and the cellar.

Mr Evans said Whelan, of Dransfield Road, Crosspool, had been upset about his parents’ divorce and felt Julie and Rose Hill were responsible for the break-up of the family and he felt resentment towards them.

The court heard he had used cannabis and admitted he had previously had dark thoughts about murder.

Mr Evans said Whelan had travelled from Sheffield and arrived at Shirebrook on the morning of February 25 with a plan to rob Julie Hill, while Rose Hill had been seen arriving afterwards.

Mr Parker visited the property later on February 26 and discovered his mother’s body. Paramedics were called before his grandmother’s body was found.

Whelan was arrested and charged days later after he had fled to London.

Mr Evans said Whelan had left a farewell note to his family, before calling police from London days later and confessing before he was arrested.

He later told police he had strangled and drowned the victims and hat he was remorseful.

Mr Evans said Whelan had been armed with an axe and a knife during his time at Julie Hill’s home.

He said: “It may well be Rose Hill was subjected to a savage attack while in a chair with a sock forced into her mouth involving an axe to injure and scare her and her wrist was severed at some point and the chair was tipped back and at a later stage she was strangled.

“That is why I suggest it was gratuitous violence and a savage and brutal attack.

“He punched Julie Hill to the extent her tooth was lodged in her throat and he filled a bath and drowned her.

“Whether this was savage or brutal or gratuitous, these were sustained attacks.”

The court heard Julie Hill had been growing cannabis at her home to deal with depression and Whelan had previously assisted her and had spent a great deal of time at her home before.

In a psychiatric interview, Whelan admitted he had demanded money from Julie Hill before killing her.

Psychiatric evidence also revealed Whelan thought some of his fantasies about killing came from Satan and his long-term use of cannabis had made things worse for him.

The court also heard how 22-year-old Mr Parker, of Gleadless, Sheffield, killed himself in Shirebrook in April because he could not cope with what had happened.

Mr Evans said: “These events have lasting consequences and have had a devastating impact on the family.”

Michael Turner QC, mitigating, said Whelan suffers an abnormality of the mind.

Mrs Justice Carr said: “These two ladies had an absolutely terrifying experience before they were actually killed.”

Sentencing was adjourned to a later date.