Burglar on early release convicted of killing banker

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The Independent Online

A career criminal released half way through a 12-year sentence for attempted murder has been convicted of stabbing to death John Monckton, a wealthy banker, in front of his wife and daughter.

Damien Hanson, 24, was also found guilty at the Old Bailey of the attempted murder of Mr Monckton's wife, Homeyra, 46, and of robbery. The convicted robber had been released early from jail, only three months before he murdered Mr Monckton, 49, at his home in Chelsea, south-west London, in the early evening on 29 November last year.

Hanson, who is expected to be sentenced today, was released from prison with little supervision despite a criminal record for violence dating back to his teens.

He was said to have become obsessed with rich people, and particularly with their diamonds. Along with his childhood friend, Elliot White, a drug addict who was dressed as a postman, he tricked his way into Mr Monckton's home.

The couple struggled in vain to prevent the robbers pushing their way in. They were repeatedly stabbed. Their nine-year-old daughter, Isobel, who witnessed part of the robbery as she hid upstairs, called 999 after the robbers fled.

White has already pleaded guilty to robbery. The jury is still considering its verdicts on the charges of murder and attempted murder, which he also faces. Both men had denied the charges of murder and attempted murder.

As Hanson was unanimously found guilty of murder he showed no emotion. He had maintained that he had never taken part in the robbery and had been visiting his sister in Brixton, south London, on the evening of the attack. The jury rejected his alibi. He was found guilty of attempted murder by a majority of 11 to one and was convicted unanimously of the robbery charge.

On the night of the robbery, at 7.30pm, Hanson and White tricked Mr Monckton into opening the front door. Within minutes of them pushing their way in, Mr Monckton lay dying from multiple stab wounds and Mrs Monckton was critically injured after being stabbed twice.

The court was told that Mrs Monckton cried "help Issie" and the child ran downstairs where she saw "blood all over the floor" and on the walls.

Mrs Monckton broke down in court as she gave evidence. She said she had felt "sheer panic". She and her husband repeated "No, no", as they tried to push the door shut. "But we were not strong enough," she said.

Hanson was wearing a balaclava and had a knife and a gun. "He came through and stabbed me the first time," Mrs Monckton said. "He stabbed me almost immediately, without saying anything." Hanson then demanded her jewellery. He took her diamond and emerald rings, a pair of costume jewellery earrings and a watch, all worth about £4,000. Then he walked over to Mr Monckton and stabbed him several times.

Hanson had been staying at a bail hostel in Streatham, south London, after being released from prison three months earlier, just over half way through a 12-year sentence for attempted murder.

While he was in Highpoint prison, Suffolk, Hanson researched wealthy people, such as the Duke of Westminster and the Graff diamond firm on a library computer. When police searched his room they found articles about rich people and on diamonds and how to sell them.

Details of his long criminal record also emerged at the trial. At the age of 14, in July 1995, he burgled a home at night when the residents were asleep inside. In November in the same year, still 14, Hanson robbed a 17-year-old of £20 at knifepoint. In August 1997, when he was 16, he was involved with another man in robbing a youth of a Rolex watch. The other man shot the victim three times.

At the time he was found guilty of attempted murder and robbery and sentenced to 12 years' jail.