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Killer given whole-life order for ‘senseless’ murder of neighbour at her home in Worksop
20 December 2023, 14:10
A triple killer has been given a whole-life order for bludgeoning his elderly neighbour to death after being wrongly housed next door to her while on licence.
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Lawrence Bierton will spend the rest of his life in prison, a judge has ruled, after beating 73-year-old Pauline Quinn to death with her coffee table at her home in Rayton Spur, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, on November 9, 2021.
Bierton - who was previously convicted of murdering two elderly sisters in 1995 - had been given housing next to Ms Quinn at Rayton Spur while on licence from a life sentence.
Probation Service representatives described the decision to house Bierton next to Ms Quinn in court as "incorrect", and was labelled a "significant mistake" by judge Mr Justice Pepperall.
Following the two-week trial at Nottingham Crown Court, the judge on Wednesday described Bierton's third killing as "senseless as it was brutal".
Bierton was issued a whole-life order - the first of its kind to be issued since 2005.
Mr Justice Pepperall said: "You have been found guilty of the senseless and brutal murder of three elderly and disabled women in their own homes.
"You showed each of the victims no mercy. [These were] sustained attacks in which you used extraordinary levels of violence.
"I am left in no doubt whatsoever that you must never again be given the opportunity to walk the streets.
"The only just sentence in this case is that you should remain in prison for the rest of your life."
Bierton was previously jailed for life for killing Aileen Dudill, 79, and Elsie Gregory, 73, in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, in 1995.
The two elderly women were beaten and suffocated by Bierton and a co-defendant. They then set the bodies on fire.
Bierton was released on licence in 2017 after being jailed in 1995, but was then recalled to prison in July 2018 following "repeated failures to address his behaviour", prosecutor John Cammegh KC told jurors in the recent trial.
He was then released again in May 2020, where he was moved to Rayton Spur six months later.
A so-called "alcohol tag" to monitor Bierton was removed eight months before Ms Quinn's death after he complained of swelling in his legs.
The Probation Service has said that a serious case review into Bierton's case has been completed with findings to be shared with Ms Quinn's family, but that these would not be shared publicly.
In court, the judge said it was a "significant mistake" for Bierton to be allowed to stay at Rayton Spur, a complex for elderly and vulnerable people.
During the trial, Saika Jabeen, the head of the Nottinghamshire county probation delivery unit, told the judge that Bierton's behaviour on his second release "appeared markedly improved".
However, she said there were also unsubstantiated links to "Mamba (a synthetic cannabinoid) use and possible benefit fraud".
Ms Jabeen said it was "not appropriate for [Bierton] to have been approved housing" in the complex, adding that the decision was "incorrect" and that a second, serious further offence review was also ongoing.
She also said that there was now "greater scrutiny" of accommodation decisions to ensure that decisions were "defensible".
She added that senior managers would apologise to the family on behalf of the Probation Service for the "serious oversights" in the case.
In his sentencing remarks, the judge said: "That decision (to house Bierton at Rayton Spur) was flawed and you should not have been housed among elderly and vulnerable residents.
"Ms Quinn was entitled to expect better, and the system plainly failed her."
Jurors took less than an hour to convict Bierton on Thursday after hearing he left Ms Quinn with 29 separate injuries, striking her 10 times to the head, resulting in a fractured skull and brain damage.
Bierton, an alcoholic, had asked Ms Quinn for money for alcohol at around 4pm on the day of the killing, having drunk vodka and rum and taken crack cocaine and Subutex, an opioid, that morning.
After she refused, he pushed her to the floor, beginning the fatal attack which prosecutors said was sparked by a fear of returning to prison over his substance misuse.
Ms Quinn, who lived alone, had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and walked with a stick, was described as "defenceless" by prosecutors.
She was able to pull a red emergency cord in her home, which recorded audio of Bierton repeatedly striking her with the coffee table.
Audio of the attack on Ms Quinn was played several times to jurors, two of whom returned to watch the sentencing.