United Kingdom

Random attacker, 22, is found guilty of murdering elderly stranger he stabbed more than 20 times

A 22-year-old random attacker has been found guilty of stabbing an elderly stranger to death at an isolated beauty spot 'just for the sake of killing'.

Moses Christensen – who had previously admitted a desire to go on a 'killing spree' – denied attacking Richard Hall, 70, on Brown Clee Hill in Shropshire last August.

But a jury today found him guilty of murder and he faces life in prison, Stafford Crown Court heard.

Christensen, now 22, walked about 20 miles to the hill after disappearing from his grandmother's home. 

He was said to be 'roaming' for victims and chose the lone pensioner because he was an 'easy target'. 

Privately-educated Christensen, who has autism spectrum disorder, denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility. 

Moses Christensen (right) – who had previously admitted a desire to go on a 'killing spree' – stabbed to death Richard Hall (left), 70, on Brown Clee Hill in Shropshire last August

Prosecutor Adrian Keeling QC earlier said that Christensen, of Stourbridge in the West Midlands, had told police he 'felt a strong desire to kill' Mr Hall as the walker approached 'out of the fog' on the hillside.

The strangers acknowledged each other as they passed before Christensen 'threw himself' onto the older man and forced him to the ground.

He then repeatedly stabbed Mr Hall with a combat knife.

Giving evidence by video-link last week, Home Office pathologist Dr Brett Lockyer said Mr Hall had suffered 26 injuries, including a 'horrific' wound to his hand and another which had penetrated his skull.

Mr Keeling said: 'The defendant told police it wasn't spontaneous and that he had planned to kill somebody for a long time. 

He described the attack as 'very savage, very animalistic, very quick and very real' and said he had wanted to commit a murder 'just for the sake of killing'.'

Mr Keeling added: 'It was, on any view, an unprovoked attack.' 

Christensen previously admitted to possessing a 'combat-style' knife at the hill. 

Adjourning the case until March 16, Mr Justice Pepperall told Christensen today: 'I am going to delay sentencing.

'But understand this. There is only one sentence that can be passed and that is a sentence of life imprisonment.' 

The jury at Stafford Crown Court earlier heard that the issue they would have to focus on was not whether Christensen had stabbed Mr Hall to death but whether he was guilty of murder or manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. 

They heard evidence from three psychiatrists about the defendant's mental state at the time of the killing.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr Dinesh Maganty told the trial he believed the 'significantly impaired' psychotic condition of Christensen was the only explanation for the killing.

Christensen opted not to give evidence to the jury.

Prosecutors alleged the 22-year-old was able to understand the nature of his conduct, formed rational judgments and killed Mr Hall 'because that is exactly what he wanted to do'.

Christensen's mother Margarita Henderson told the court that around a year before the killing he had started playing violent video games and had considered joining Islamic State.

Above, the scene at Brown Clee Hill, where Mr Hall's body was discovered. Christensen, now 22, walked about 20 miles to the hill after disappearing from his grandmother's home. He was said to be 'roaming' for victims and chose the lone pensioner because he was an 'easy target'

But last summer Christensen told his mother that he wanted to kill three of his teachers and 'eat the flesh of one of them'.

He later told his father that he wanted to go on a killing spree and had got himself physically fit for it.

His parents contacted a mental health crisis team but Christensen ignored a deadline set by his father to start co-operating with psychiatrists. 

He then vanished from his grandmother's home, where he had been living, with two blades.

The family contacted police but before officers could locate Christensen he had attacked Mr Hall, from Perton, Staffordshire.

After the killing, Christensen knocked on a door near the hill and told the person who answered to call the police. 

Speaking to an officer, Christensen said he had committed a crime and gave 'precise' details as to the location of Mr Hall's body.

Mr Hall, who had never met Christensen, had spent the day varnishing his fence before telling his wife he was 'popping out' for one of his regular walks.  

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