Friday, 16 May 2008
killer who murdered the parents and brother of a bride hours after
her wedding will die in prison after a judge rejected his appeal
Arthur Hutchinson was given a life sentence for
stabbing to death Basil Laitner, wife Avril and son Richard at
their home in Dore, Sheffield.
Reviewing the case a High Court judge ruled the
66-year-old must remain in prison for life for his 1984 crimes.
He is one a small number of UK killers with a "life
means life" tariff.
Hartlepool-born Hutchinson, then 42 years old
and not known to the Laitner family, committed the murders at the
family home hours after they had hosted the wedding reception of
their daughter Suzanne.
After killing three members of the family,
Hutchinson raped the Laitner's other daughter, aged 18 at the
time. He was convicted of this charge at the murder trial.
At the trial the judge recommended a minimum
jail term of 18 years but qualified it by saying it was "a genuine
At Friday's hearing Hutchinson's solicitors
argued that a "whole life" tariff violated his human rights.
But Mr Justice Tugendhat told the court he
agreed with the Home Secretary's decision that Hutchinson must die
And he refused to allow the appeal to go any
Justice Tugendhat added: "There is no reason at
all for departing from the decision of the home secretary."
At the time of the killings Hutchinson was on
the run from police for another rape.
Arthur Hutchinson will die in prison
By Sam Beattie - Evening Gazette
October 7, 2008
A MULTIPLE murderer who butchered three members
of the same family has been told he will die behind bars.
Arthur Hutchinson - who gained notoriety on
Teesside as The Fox - killed solicitor Basil Laitner, his doctor
wife Avril, and their son, Richard, just hours after their elder
daughter Suzanne’s wedding in 1983.
He left their mutilated bodies in pools of
blood and subjected their other daughter, Nicola, then 18, to a
barbaric rape at knifepoint.
But as the full horror of the massacre unfolded,
The Fox - so named after bragging about his “cunning” on tapes
found by police - went to ground.
Less than a month before, he had become a
wanted man after escaping from court where he was on remand for
It was only after a manhunt across nine
northern counties that he was finally brought to justice.
Hutchinson, now 67, denied the killings at the
time and challenged his life sentence at the Court of Appeal in
But his bid for freedom was shattered when the
court’s three judges told him his crimes were so deranged, life
must mean life. All three described his case as the most heinous
they had ever dealt with.
Earlier this year, High Court judge Mr Justice
Tugendhat reviewed the original tariff of 18 years and ruled that
the triple-killer must never be set free. Judges yesterday denied
Hutchinson permission to appeal.
Lord Justice Dyson, sitting with Mr Justice
Henriques and Mr Justice Openshaw, said there was “no substance”
in Hutchinson’s application.
He said: “This was a truly shocking case. In
the experience of all three members of this court we can say that
none of us is aware of a case of greater gravity or more heinous
than this case.
“In our judgment Mr Justice Tugendhat was
plainly correct in saying that this applicant should spend the
rest of his life in custody without prospect of release.”
Hutchinson, formerly of Kelso Grove, in
Hartlepool, systematically massacred members of the Laitner family
in their Sheffield home a quarter of a century ago. The only
survivor at the house, their daughter Nicola, was raped by
Hutchinson in her bedroom as he held a knife to her throat - and
then had to face him again when she took to the witness box to
testify against him.
At the time the court took the unusual step of
allowing her to be named, due to the massive public interest.
Before the Laitner murders, Hutchinson had
spent five-and-a-half years in jail for trying to shoot his half-brother.
But his time behind bars did nothing to quench
his thirst for violence.
Basil Laitner was found in his pyjamas lying
face down at the top of the stairs. Mrs Laitner, who had tried to
fend off her killer, lay in a puddle of blood on her bedroom floor.
And Richard Laitner, also in his pyjamas, was discovered half on
and half off the bed.
Police made a video recording of the scene as
evidence. Murder squad detectives were so sickened by Hutchinson’s
acts, the officer leading the investigation told the Gazette it
was the worst case he had worked on.
How the killer was captured
A CHILLING message sneered on to an audio tape
that soothed his twisted ego - but proved vital in securing his
A manhunt that spanned 39 days and nine
counties - but ended a stone’s throw from his home.
A dangerous loner who committed the most
horrendous crime known to man - but ended up sacrificing his
freedom just to see his mother.
Many have tried to glean some sort of insight
into Arthur Hutchinson’s mind after he ended three lives and
ruined a fourth on October 23, 1983. Few have even come close.
And a quarter of a century on, top judges are
still so disturbed by the lethal enigma that is Hutchinson, they
have reiterated: “You must die in jail”.
Hutchinson’s unnerving spate as one of
Britain’s most wanted men began when, already on the run for rape,
he crept into the Laitners’ house for what is thought to have been
a botched armed robbery.
After slaughtering Basil, 59, Avril, 55, and
Richard Laitner, 28, and raping Nicola with a sharp knife pressed
at her throat, he disappeared into the night.
Just three days after her ordeal, sole survivor
Nicola gave such an uncanny description of Hutchinson to a
newspaper artist, detectives recognised him immediately.
The hunt was on. But by now, Hutchinson had
crossed the county border and was hiding out in Worksop.
Apparently moving around in disguise, Hutchinson darted between
guesthouses and pubs in the North - Barnsley, Nottinghamshire,
Manchester, York, Scarborough.
Sgt Tom Walton, who was helping with the
manhunt, told the Gazette at the time: “This man is on the run and
we believe he is quite clearly capable of killing if cornered.”
Despite all his hot-footing, the police were
closing in - officers reckoned they were rarely more than a day
off his heels.
Nursing a gash to his leg, caused by a close
encounter with barbed wire during his court escape, and
increasingly paranoid that police would shoot him on sight,
Hutchinson could feel the net closing.
So he sought sanctuary with the one woman he
had always loved and had always been loved by - his mum, Louise
Reardon, who lived in Hartlepool. But cops leapfrogged him,
throwing up roadblocks around Teesside.
And thanks to a tip-off, dog handlers spotted
him near a farm just outside Hartlepool. He was cornered and
arrested in a turnip field.
By now, police had also found an audio tape at
one of his squats in Darlington on which he bragged about his
escape from custody, saying he was “also nicknamed The Fox because
of my cunning ways.”
In a stunt that eerily echoed the taunts sent
by Yorkshire Ripper hoaxer, Wearside Jack - real name John Humble
- just a handful of years prior, he goaded cops about the Lainter
He said: “I’m making no comment on the triple
killings, let the police do what they want. I’m saying nowt.”
But it was the jury of six men and six women
who ultimately decided that. Defended by the same solicitor who
represented the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, Hutchinson
always maintained his innocence.
He was found guilty on September 14, 1984.
Hutchinson had risked - then lost - his freedom to visit his mum
who initially stood by her son, on one occasion spending £125 in
cab fares to see him in prison.
Then, following his conviction, the 79-year-old
vowed never to see him again, saying: “I never could believe
before now that Arthur could be so violent and thought that
everything about the case was a pack of lies. I believed him.”
HUTCHINSON introduces himself on an audio tape
and says he is nicknamed The Fox - “because of my cunning ways”.
Describing his escape from court, he says: “I
hurled myself through an upper window, crashing into a barbed wire
net, ripping my leg to pieces.”
He says he ran, barely stopping for four miles
“I stopped in the bushes for hours then I see
the helicopter hunt. So I dragged myself into the gutter, crawled
along the gutter and forced myself into bramble bushes and stayed
there till it got dark.”
He says he spent four nights on the run,
surviving on dandelions and roots before going to hospital in
“Trousers were at this stage covered in blood
but I kept on going. I got my treatment, left and walked another
three to four miles back into the wilderness. You just have to
keep continuing sometimes.
“I just had to live day by day but I won’t give
in. I’ll never give in - even when they shoot me, else finish me
Hooking up a transistor, he listened in to
police searches for him, he boasts. “Like playing cat and mouse -
or should I say fox on the trot?” Hutchinson laughs.
“I’m making no comment on the triple killings -
let the police do what they want. I’m saying nowt.
“They knew I was finished but makes no
difference whether they shoot me for this or anything else. If
they think I’m dangerous, let them think that. Maybe I am, maybe
I’m not. I’m still free and that’s the main thing.
“However crackers I might be, I’ve walked past
them several times and they haven’t even noticed me. Like I say,
I’m a master of disguise,” he says, laughing again.