Axe man jailed for life after double killings

A dad-of-two who “slaughtered” his partner and eldest daughter has been jailed for life.

Thursday, 7th November 2013, 8:25 am

John Miller, 38, repeatedly hacked his girlfriend Sarah Laycock to death with an axe before slashing eight-year-old Abigail Miller’s throat with a knife, because “voices from the computer” told him to.

Leeds Crown Court heard how racist Miller spared his youngest daughter, Amelia, because she was a “true Aryan” - leaving the four-year-old upstairs while he carried out the “heinous attacks” at their Garforth home on January 13 last year.

Prosecutor Michelle Colborne QC told the court how police discovered the mutilated bodies of Miss Laycock, 31, and Abigail at Kirkby Avenue the following day and that little Amelia had been cowering alone upstairs with the family dog for 12 hours before being rescued by police.

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Abigail Miller

Psychiatrists in the case agreed Miller was suffering an “acute psychotic illness” at the time of the attacks and he pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The court heard how Miss Laycock - a teacher at Wheldon Infants School in Castleford - was found in her pyjamas in the kitchen, with 19 stab wounds to the face and chest and four axe wounds which had shattered every bone in her face.

Abigail was discovered in her nightie in the living room, having been stabbed with a knife by her father nine times.

Miss Colborne said: “Sarah Laycock was still alive when some, if not all, of the wounds were inflicted.

“Abigail was the victim of a sustained attack. She put up a considerable struggle against the attack by the number of defence wounds to her fingers.”

The killings came to light when Miller was discovered wandering around Fairburn Ings nature reserve in Castleford on January 14.

An ambulance was called and the defendant became violent to paramedics, removing his clothes and growling and grunting while beating his chest.

He was arrested and taken to Pinderfields Hospital, where he started making “overtly racist” comments before revealing his partner and daughter were dead.

An urgent police interview was conducted in which Miller admitted to killing his partner and daughter, but had let Amelia live because she had “blonde hair and blue eyes.”

When assessed by a psychiatrist, Miller told doctors the “voices had told him to do things.”

Miss Colborne said: “He said the computer told him Miss Laycock and Abigail were aliens from outer space but Amelia was superior because of her genes.

“He said the computer had been brainwashing him and he had turned the electricity off because the signals were telling him to kill them both.”

On the evening of January 13, Miller picked his daughters up from school and told them to hurry home because “a nuclear war was coming”.

He told doctors he had sat down with them to eat that night “as if it was their last dinner” and Miss Laycock “could tell” something was wrong.

Miss Colborne said: “He got the axe from the garage and bought it into the house. He ran upstairs and told Sarah Laycock she was an alien.

“He clapped his hands and [said] he had a vision of a robot coming to help him from space.

“He threw Sarah Laycock down the stairs and she asked if he was going to kill her.”

Following the attack, he ran upstairs and threw Abigail against a wall, before stabbing her to death in the living room.

Mitigating, John Elvidge said the defendant had shown “some remorse” for his actions.

He said: “You have seen in the reports the attitude of the defendant as he comes to terms with what he has done. There appears to be some expression of remorse.”

The court heard how Miller has a history of drug abuse, including the use of anabolic steroids and cannabis, and one previous conviction for criminal damage against an ex-partner.

He was jailed for life and must serve a minimum of 15 years before being considered for release.

His Honour Mr Justice Coulson, said: “It’s accepted you were mentally impaired when you killed them.

“There were two victims, slaughtered in a brutal way. The offences were appalling. To kill your partner in this way in her own home and your daughter are heinous crimes.”