Two men who unleashed a violent attack on a group of friends which left two people dead and another seriously injured will spend at least 72 years in prison.
Nicholas Papworth and Anthony Bennison stabbed and ran over their victims during 27 seconds of “carnage” in Houghton Regis in November, leaving Adam Fanelli, 39, and Patrick Howard, 27, dead and a third man seriously injured.
A brief altercation in a pub sparked the incident which spilled out into the streets, with the three victims stabbed multiple times while Papworth and Bennison attempted to use their cars as weapons.
Mr Fanelli had only left his home to check what was happening, having told his mum he would be back in a minute.
Papworth, 33, and Bennison, 25, were found guilty of 12 offences including murder and attempted murder following an eight-week trial at Luton Crown Court.
Today (Thursday) both Papworth, of Hillborough Crescent, Dunstable, and Bennison, of no fixed abode, were handed life prison sentences to serve a minimum of 34 years and 38 years behind bars respectively.
Shortly after 1am on Sunday 13 November, police were called to reports of a hit and run in Tithe Farm Road, Houghton Regis.
Mr Fanelli and Mr Howard were both pronounced dead at the scene, while the third man was taken to hospital for treatment for life threatening injuries.
An investigation led by the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit pieced together hours of CCTV footage to establish the events that led to the fatal attacks.
Enquiries established that the two offenders, Mr Howard and two other men had all been at a nearby pub in separate groups.
At around 12.45am, Papworth and the critically injured man were involved in a physical altercation that was broken up by other patrons. After this, Mr Howard, the second man and a number of other people left the pub.
Bennison was seen leaving the pub in his vehicle around 10 minutes later.
Footage showed Bennison driving erratically around the area before locating the group on Drury Lane, Houghton Regis. Bennison then drove directly at the group at high-speed numerous times, colliding with road signs, fencing and parked vehicles.
Mr Fanelli, who was at home with his mother, heard what was happening and went outside to check, telling his mother he would be “back in a minute”.
He came across Mr Howard and the rest of his group as they fled from Bennison and his car via a nearby alleyway.
Unable to continue his attack, Bennison returned to the pub where he, Papworth and another man left in two vehicles back towards Drury Lane to continue their search.
They located Mr Howard, Mr Fanelli and the third man in Tithe Farm Road at around 1.15am.
The pair drove at the group before Bennison got out of his vehicle and attempted to attack the third man, stabbing Mr Fanelli twice in the chest as he attempted to intervene.
Injured, Mr Fanelli fled the scene but collapsed in a nearby driveway, where he was later found dead.
Bennison went on to stab the third man eight times in the back and neck. He then stabbed Mr Howard in the back of the neck, causing instant paralysis.
Having driven through the scene at speed, Papworth turned back and drove directly at Mr Howard as the third man attempted to help him.
Unable to move, Mr Howard was killed when he was hit by Papworth and dragged a short distance after becoming trapped beneath the vehicle.
Both Papworth and Bennison were arrested in the days following the incident.
Last month Bennison was found guilty of:
- Two counts of murder
- Two counts of attempted murder
- Three counts of attempted Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) with intent
The jury found Bennison not guilty on three counts of attempted murder and two counts of attempted GBH.
Papworth was found guilty of:
- One count of murder, in relation to Mr Howard
- Two counts of attempted murder
- Two counts of attempted GBH
Papworth was found not guilty of the murder of Mr Fanelli, three counts of attempted murder and one count of GBH. He had previously pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.
Detective Chief Inspector Sam Khanna, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said: “We welcome today’s outcome as justice served to two extremely violent and senseless murderers.
“While I hope today’s outcome provides some sense of justice and closure, the loved ones of those who lost their lives will no doubt carry the sadness and trauma of these shocking events in Tithe Farm Road for a very long time. Our thoughts and support remains with them.
“The level of violence used in this attack is among the worst and most shocking things I have seen as a detective and anyone capable of such atrocious actions has no place in our society. These men have changed the lives of three families forever, the trauma of which we know has rippled across many others within the wider community in Houghton Regis.
“I would once again like to extend my thanks to the wider community for supporting our investigation and standing against such violence and devastation.
“Violence and carrying knives will only have bad and often devastating consequences, both for you and those you care about. We can all play our part in challenging these misguided attitudes and send a clear message that violence is never part of the solution.”
Two other men, Mark Griffith 41, of Leagrave High Street, Luton, and Curtis Long, 32 of Hallwicks Road, Luton, were previously charged in connection to the incident but will face no further action.
The case is set to feature on the next series of 24 Hours in Police Custody.