40 years' jail and no parole: Stephen Seddon, a son with 'insatiable thirst' for money, sentenced for killing parents over inheritance
Thursday 28 March 2013
A conman has been jailed for life and told he will serve at least 40 years before can be paroled after the cold-blooded execution of his parents to collect his £230,000 inheritance.
Convicted fraudster Stephen Seddon, 46, continued to deny his guilt, shaking his head and shouting “I'm an innocent man!” as he was told he will be 86 before he will be eligible for release.
He had tried to murder his father, Robert Seddon, 68, and mother, Patricia, 65, by driving into a canal with them strapped in the back seats in a faked road accident.
Seddon then “played the hero” in the aftermath of the “accident”, boasting of his supposed rescue attempts after aborting the murder plan when bystanders went to their aid in the submerged car.
But after that plan failed, four months later the father-of-three blasted the couple to death with a sawn-off shotgun at their suburban home in Sale, Greater Manchester.
His parents had made him sole beneficiary of their £230,000 estate in their will - and paid with their lives.
Seddon was given a mandatory life sentence for two counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder after being convicted by a jury at Manchester Crown Court yesterday.
Passing sentence, Mr Justice Hamblen told the defendant that in Greek mythology men who killed their own parents suffered eternally “throughout time... it being recognised as a terrible crime”.
At one point Seddon shouted from the dock: "No, not at all, they were not murdered by me at all. I'm an innocent man!"
But the judge told him to "Keep quiet!" and continued his sentencing remarks.
"In effect you have executed your own parents," he told Seddon.
"One can only imagine the horror of your parents' last moments in this life, when they realised what a monster their son, whom they loved, had become.
"Mercifully their deaths were swift.
"The reason for the attempted murders and the murders was greed. You needed money. You had lost your job. You had a mortgage. You had a family to support. You had some grand plans.
"Despite the fact that your parents had always been very generous in supporting you, you wanted more and you wanted it now - hence the plan to kill them and get your inheritance up front.
"The attempt at murder having failed, you decided on a more ruthless and definitive method of killing. You obtained a sawn-off shotgun from criminal associates.
"In Greek mythology, someone who killed a parent would be pursued until death by the Furies.
"Throughout time it has been recognised as a terrible and unnatural crime.
"You have killed not one parent but both of them.
"You have done so for gain.
"You have done so having first tried unsuccessfully to kill them by other means.
"You have done so by the barbaric act of shooting them at point- blank range with a sawn-off shotgun."
Seddon had lived the high life in the past, posing in his Bentley Turbo, jetting around the world and staying at the Waldorf Astoria in New York on one trip.
The money came from a scam and he was jailed for fraud but his thirst for money remained unquenched.
Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, described him as the ultimate "ungrateful son" who had an "insatiable thirst for cash".
His elderly and caring parents had already gifted him £40,000 in cash and bought his home in Seaham, Co Durham, to keep a roof over his head.
They enjoyed a "modest but comfortable" life, with Mr Seddon getting an occupational pension from British Airways and Mrs Seddon her state pension.
The couple, married for 47 years, made a will in October 2009, naming each other as beneficiary if one of them died, with their estate worth £230,000.
But if they both died, their son Stephen "got the lot".
On March 20 last year Seddon made the first attempt to kill his parents by faking the car accident.
He hired a BMW and drove from his home in the North East to Manchester on the pretext of treating his parents to a surprise meal, a belated Mother's Day present.
With his parents and nephew Daniel in the hired car, Seddon drove along a stretch of road beside the Bridgewater Canal in Timperley, south Manchester, where the vehicle veered off the carriageway and into the water.
Daniel managed to free himself and reach safety while Seddon was seen on the roof of the car, trying to kick the windows in and apparently shouting for help.
Witnesses who ran to assist shouted for him to get off the car - as he was making it sink.
Mrs Seddon was pulled from the water after "huge heroism" shown by one fireman and her life was saved after she was given emergency CPR at the scene.
Seddon gave "many and varied" accounts of why the "accident" happened.
He told a police officer at the scene that he had a problem with his heart, clutched his chest and the car ended up in the water.
He then collapsed to the ground but tests in hospital showed nothing to indicate he had suffered a heart attack.
Seddon also suggested that the car had hit a brick, but no debris could be found and experts thought it would be "highly improbable" for that to be the cause of the crash.
By July last year his father at least had come to realise the terrible truth about his son.
Robert Seddon confided in his GP that he believed the canal "accident" four months earlier had been a deliberate attempt to kill him - and he intended to confront his son.
The next day he was dead.
His wife, still recovering from the car "accident", tried to fight Seddon when he produced the sawn-off shotgun.
She was found in the hallway, blasted in the temple from close range as she lay on the floor.
His father was shot in the neck as he got up from a sofa in the lounge.
Police believe it was almost a triple murder.
Tragedy struck the Seddons in September 2008 when their daughter, Lesley, died at the age of 40, leaving her parents to look after her disabled son, Daniel, who lived with them at the family property.
Chillingly police revealed that Seddon had taken three shotgun cartridges with him - he did not realise his nephew was in respite care that day and so not at home when the killer came calling.
Seddon planted the gun in his father's lap, taking his right hand and placing it on the weapon to give the impression of a murder suicide.
But police investigations showed it was not possible for Mr Seddon to have shot himself in the position in which he was found - his arms were not long enough and the recoil from the blast would not leave the weapon resting in his lap.
Police also then began to look again at the earlier car "accident" at the canal.
Seddon's reaction when police called with the "news" of his parents' murders, was: "What am I going to do now? I'm going to lose the house, the mortgage is in my dad's name."
He denied the shooting and said it was "ridiculous" to claim he had tried to kill his own mother and father and "sick" to suggest he had intended to murder his nephew as well.
Outside court, Detective Superintendent Denise Worth, from Greater Manchester Police (GMP), said: "I actually find it difficult to put into words - someone who could kill and murder their own parents.
"It is hard to describe somebody prepared to do that.
"He portrayed himself as a devoted and loving son and told lie after lie after lie.
"He's just an evil, wicked man who did it all for greed."
Pc Bryn Jones, the family liaison officer, read out a statement on behalf of the Seddon family.
It read: "The past nine months have been a very sad and emotional time for our family.
"The shock of having both Pat and Bob taken from us in such horrifying and tragic circumstances has left us feeling numb.
"Pat and Bob were a kind, loving and selfless couple who will be missed by their family, friends and especially their grandson Daniel, who they cared for with great love and affection.
"We would like to now be left in peace to mourn the deaths of Pat and Bob and be allowed to remember them as the loving couple that they were."
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