A dad who throttled, beat and then stabbed to death a frail 75-year-old grandma - all so he could steal her £104 of pension money to pay for a night out - has today been jailed for life and told he must serve a minimum of 33 years behind bars.
It took just two hours yesterday for a jury at Sheffield Crown Court to find father-of-three Liam Naylor, aged 23, guilty of murdering Doreen ‘Dotty’ Walker at her home on April 1.
Today, Judge Julian Goose QC jailed him for life – and ordered him to serve at least 33 years behind bars.
Sentencing, he told Naylor: “I’m satisfied this was a murder of particularly high seriousness.
“You murdered Mrs Walker for her pension money. It was a murder for gain. You went to her home to steal from her and after murdering her you stole her pension money.”
Naylor, who stabbed Mrs Walker more than 40 times in what the judge described as a ‘savage, brutal and sustained attack’, claimed he acted in self defence.
He said the 5ft 3in, 8st pensioner threatened him with a knife after discovering he had stolen her money.
Jurors unanimously rejected his lies.
In an emotional victim impact statement read to the court, Mrs Walker’s daughter Sharon said she was haunted by her mum’s last moments.
She said: “Our mum was such a loving, kind woman, she saw the good in everybody and was too trusting at times.
“We all had a close relationship and she was the rock holding us all together and now she’s gone.
“The day I found out that my mum’s life had been taken from her is the day my heart broke. It’s like I had my heart ripped from my chest.
“I’m haunted by my mum’s last moments. I keep thinking did he torture her? did she suffer?
“I have images of her in my head suffering. I close my eyes and wish they would go away but they don’t.”
“How could she have been taken from us by someone she took into her own home?”
Sharon said her throat was ‘raw’ from all the crying and she couldn’t sleep at night without the light on.
She said: “I’m so glad I saw her on Mother’s Day and told her I loved her.
“She didn’t deserve to die like this. I miss her every day. I find myself going to the phone to ring her for advice.
“People keep asking me if I’m getting there, if things are getting back to normal - but our lives will never be normal again.”
Speaking after the hearing detective superintendent Richard Fewkes from South Yorkshire Police, who led the investigation, said: “Clearly I welcome the conviction and the sentence passed against Liam Naylor for what was a very brutal and cruel murder.
“I’d like to pay tribute to the family - they have had to hear some very harrowing evidence about the way Doreen died. “The evidence against Liam Naylor was overwhelming to say the least and the fact the family have had to listen to that evidence has been cruel.
“They have been very dignified. Clearly they have been affected by the events as all families would be but particularly given the nature of how Doreen died and the fact that it happened in her own home.
“I hope the hefty sentence gives them some small solace and that they can try to move forward knowing that justice has been done.”
The court heard Naylor was friends with Mrs Walker’s granddaughter Keeley Sweeney, with whom he had also had a sexual relationship. The pair were regular visitors to Mrs Walker’s home in Birkwood Avenue, Cudworth, Barnsley, because she gave them food, money and cigarettes.
Simon Waley, prosecuting, said Mrs Walker collected her pension money on the morning of the murder, and told a shop worker she had fallen out with her 17-year-old granddaughter.
Naylor was seen on CCTV that evening, entering her home at 9.30pm, and emerging two hours later.
He said they had smoked cigarettes together and watched CSI on television, before Mrs Walker attacked him - and then ‘jumped onto’ her own knife.
Mrs Walker, who had three children and five grandchildren, suffered more than 40 ‘sharp force injuries’ to her head, face, neck, arms and chest. The 20cm carving knife was left embedded in her neck.
One stab wound penetrated her heart while another sliced through a spinal bone. Her major arteries were severed.
Naylor, who agreed Mrs Walker was ‘kind and caring’, also broke the OAP’s nose - probably by punching her in the face - and twisted her right arm until it broke.
Then he washed himself and rifled through her jewellery box before returning to finish her off.
When he arrived home to Junction Street, Barnsley, he was ‘covered in blood’ and ‘agitated’. He told Keeley and their friends Brook Smith and Matthew Potter he’d got into a fight with an unknown man.
But he changed his clothes, washed the blood from his body - and then the four went out drinking.
Brook and Matthew told the court that, on the way into Barnsley town centre, Naylor and Keeley Sweeney went to an underpass near the Alhambra Centre where they torched a carrier bag containing his blood-stained clothes.
Naylor then treated the group to drinks in a bar, a McDonald’s takeaway and a taxi home.
Naylor was arrested after Mrs Walker’s body was found the following day by her horrified son-in-law.
It later emerged Naylor had sent a series of text messages to himself before the killing to create a cover story about borrowing money. During the attack Naylor cut his hand and police found his blood on the murder weapon and a back door handle.
He initially denied going to Mrs Walker’s home on the day of the killing, but later changed his story, saying Keeley had told him to go to her grandma’s and steal her pension money.
He claimed Mrs Walker had suspicions about his intentions and came at him with the knife.
The first wound was inflicted when she ‘jumped’ into the knife, he said.
After that he claimed he ‘flipped’ and couldn’t remember a thing.