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'Ruthless' teen sentenced to life after striking a boy repeatedly with a hammer

Liam Hugh McAtear, 16, of Clayton-le-Moors, had earlier penned a letter to Moors Murderer Ian Brady to express his fascination with the child killer.

Liam McAtear

A 'ruthless' and dangerous teen who struck a boy repeatedly over the head with a metal claw hammer has been given a life sentence for attempted murder.

Liam Hugh McAtear, 16, of Clayton-le-Moors, had earlier penned a letter to Moors Murderer Ian Brady to express his fascination with the child killer.

His victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, suffered life-threatening injuries from a fractured skull during the shocking incident.

The defendant must serve at least six years and nine months behind bars before a parole board can decide if he is suitable for release.

Judge Anthony Russell QC said McAtear is an intelligent young man with a high-risk of developing mental health problems and committing further violent crime.

He said McAtear's letter to Ian Brady was a 'chilling' feature of the case and a life sentence was justified to protect the public.

He added: “It was a wicked crime of extreme brutality. This was pre-meditated, ruthlessly carried out and there was serious harm to the victim and you have shown absolutely no remorse.”

Prosecutor Jeremy Gront-Smith told Preston Crown Court that the victim, with whom McAtear had previously argued, suffered a 'huge blow to his head' and had put his arms up to protect himself as repeated blows rained down on him.

The victim was rushed to hospital with 12 head injuries including a fractured skull which required major surgery, Mr Gront-Smith said.

McAtear left the bloodied scene where there was 'large amounts of blood and a hammer' and went to a friend's house where he confessed he had tried to kill the victim.

He told his friend he thought he was going to kill someone that day and added: “I knew sooner or later I was going to snap.”

McAtear was arrested and when police searched his home, they found letters he had written to friends telling them of his plans to kill.

In one, he wrote: “I'm planning a murder and it's interesting and makes me feel good.”

Officers also found a letter he had written to Ian Brady in July 2013.

Mark Stuart, defending McAtear, said he had committed an 'undoubtedly wicked act' which he never sought to deny.

He said the defendant had an extremely difficult family background, though he had managed to gain GCSEs at school in Accrington and had hoped to study medicine.

Speaking after the hearing, DC Mick Ingram, of Hyndburn CID, said: “It is one of the most shocking cases I've seen. We deal with violent offenders on a regular basis but something like this - the people involved and the nature of the case - it beggars belief.”

 

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