A 17-year-old boy found guilty of murdering James Attfield and Nahid Almanea in Colchester has today been jailed for life, to serve a minimum of 27 years.
James Fairweather, of Thorpe Walk, Colchester, was found guilty last Friday by a jury at Guildford Crown Court, following a two week trial.
The teenager, who was just 15 at the time of the killings, was sentenced today at The Old Bailey.
When sentencing Mr Justice Robin Spencer QC described the murders as “brutal and sadistic” and created a feeling of “terror” in the Colchester community for more than a year.
James Attfield was murdered in March 2014. The 33-year-old, also known as Jim, was found on the Riverside Path in Colchester in the early hours of Saturday, March 29, with more than 100 stab wounds to his body.
Nahid Almanea, a student at the University of Essex, was murdered on Tuesday, June 17, 2014 on the Salary Brook Trail in Colchester as she walked from her student accommodation in nearby Woodrow Way to the university complex in Wivenhoe.
The 31-year-old was attacked at around 10.40am and died as a result of stab wounds.
Detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate launched murder investigations following both deaths. After Nahid died, they treated them as separate but parallel investigations.
Fairweather admitted killing James and Nahid at a hearing at The Old Bailey on Friday, January 22 where he pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
However, Essex Police and the CPS did not accept this plea and Fairweather faced a trial by jury who found him guilty of murdering James and Nahid.
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Worron, Head of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “The actions of James Fairweather devastated two families who lost their loved ones in horrific circumstances. No sentence will ever bring James and Nahid back and it will not stop their families from grieving every day. After they were killed both my officers and I gave an undertaking that we would do everything we could to find their killer and bring them to justice and we did that. Today I would like to pay tribute to James and Nahid and thank their families who have been nothing but supportive of my officers and staff during this investigation.
Mr Worron added: “The ferocious nature of the killings had a massive impact on the Colchester community, striking fear and tension among the town’s residents for 14 months.”
“The community of Colchester came together and helped us to bring this killer to justice. Residents listened to our community reassurance advice and appeals. A member of the public called in when she saw Fairweather acting suspiciously on the Salary Brook Brook Trail on Tuesday, May 26 last year and he was subsequently arrested. Tensions in the town did dissipate and confidence returned over time and that was due to the strength and resilience of the local people, minority groups, businesses and partnerships working together in Colchester.”
When sentencing Fairweather the judge praised the police investigation. He described it as a particularly difficult investigation for the police which had huge implications in terms of cost and emotional strain. He said: “Those leading the investigation deserve the highest commendation and the public of Colchester have reason to be very grateful.”