• Thu. Aug 11th, 2022

Ben Oliver murdered grandad after learning family secret

Byscarcity news

Jul 28, 2022

A man has been jailed for life over the killing of his grandfather as legal history was made at the Old Bailey with the first televised sentencing in England and Wales. 

Ben Oliver, 25, was acquitted of murder but had admitted the manslaughter of 74-year-old David Oliver in Mottingham, south London, on January 19 last year.

The court today heard how he had text his mum saying ‘mum, I’ve killed grandad, I love you’ as he was jailed for life with a minimum term of 10 years and 8 months.

Judge Sarah Munro QC made legal history on Thursday as she sentenced Ben Oliver while the footage was being broadcast on news channels.

The sentencing of Oliver took place in Court Two, one of the Old Bailey’s oldest courtrooms.

The 25-year-old defendant admitted manslaughter due to diminished responsibility. He was cleared of murder by jurors at the Old Bailey.

The court heard Oliver attacked his bedbound grandfather, who lay “helpless” in his bedroom following a stroke.

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Prosecutor Louis Mably QC had told jurors it was carried out in the intention to kill because Oliver was “very angry” at learning of allegations against his grandfather of historical sexual abuse of girls.

The defendant had used a kitchen knife in the brutal attack, then confessed what he had done to his grandmother, the court had heard.

Sentencing him, Judge Munro set out Oliver’s troubled family background, autistic spectrum disorder and depression.

She noted he had loved his grandparents until he found out about allegations of sexual abuse involving his grandfather.

That love turned to hatred of his grandfather and Oliver developed an “obsessional tunnel vision” leading to a determined decision to kill in a “ferocious” way, the judge said.

Oliver inflicted 21 stab wounds to the victim’s face and seven to the torso before telling his grandmother: “He cannot hurt you any more now.”

After weighing up aggravating and mitigating features, the judge told Oliver: “In your case I do consider the seriousness of the offence does justify a life sentence.”

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Jurors were told the defendant grew up in “troubled and difficult times”, and in 2016 he was convicted of sexual offences against a young girl when he was aged 15.

He was released from youth detention in September 2019.

In the months before the killing, he became aware of allegations of sexual abuse against his grandfather, who was also said to have treated his wife badly and had affairs.

The defendant was also depressed and had suicidal thoughts.

The move to broadcast Oliver’s sentencing was announced by the Ministry of Justice on Wednesday and was hailed by broadcasters as a “landmark moment for open justice” and a “victory for the viewer”.

The move to allow cameras in the Crown Court follows a change in the law in 2020, but implementation was delayed in the pandemic.

It will open up some of the most high-profile courts and allow the public to see and hear judges explain the reasoning behind their sentences.

Only the judge will be filmed during any sentencing to protect the privacy of victims, witnesses and jurors.

Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said: “Opening up the courtroom to cameras to film the sentencing of some the country’s most serious offenders will improve transparency and reinforce confidence in the justice system.

The Lord Chief Justice stopped short of advocating televising trials, saying: ‘My own but fairly strong view is that what we see happening around the world illustrates why that can be quite damaging.

‘The thing about sentencing remarks is that broadcasting those doesn’t have an impact on the way witnesses and others involved in the trial process – complainants, victims and so on – are immediately affected.

‘If you broadcast the trial proceedings themselves, it’s very difficult to avoid that.’

However, Beth Mantel, complex crime lawyer at Reeds Solicitors, argued that only broadcasting sentencing remarks was ‘problematic’. 

‘The problem with televising sentencing remarks is that it gives a bite sized version of the trial, submissions and mitigation made by the advocates,’ he said. 

‘This may result in the opposite of providing transparency to the public, especially since the Court of Appeal has encouraged Judges not to produce over thorough sentencing remarks in the Crown Court.’

The move to broadcast Ben Oliver’s sentencing was announced by the Ministry of Justice yesterday and was hailed by broadcasters as a ‘landmark moment for open justice’ and a ‘victory for the viewer’. 

John Ryley, head of Sky News, said: ‘Filming judges’ sentencing remarks in the Crown Court of England and Wales is a victory for the viewer.

‘It will allow for greater transparency in our courts and is something that broadcasters, including Sky News, have campaigned for more than a decade to achieve.’

Ben Oliver, from Bexleyheath, south London, had been cleared of murder having admitted the manslaughter of 74-year-old David Oliver, in Mottingham, south London, on January 19 last year.

His trial had heard he had repeatedly stabbed and slashed the bedbound victim in the face and neck as he lay ‘helpless’ in his bedroom.

Prosecutor Louis Mably QC had told jurors it was carried out in the intention to kill because Oliver was ‘very angry’ at learning of allegations against his grandfather of historical sexual abuse of girls.

The defendant had used a kitchen knife in the brutal attack, then confessed what he had done to his grandmother, the court had heard.

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