'Crossbow cannibal' to die in jail

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The Independent Online

A postgraduate student who killed, dismembered and ate parts of three prostitutes was told today he will die in jail.





Stephen Griffiths, 40, who referred to himself as the "crossbow cannibal" after the method he used to kill one of his victims, was told he will never be released from prison after carrying out the "wicked and monstrous" crimes.



The former public schoolboy lured sex workers Suzanne Blamires, 36, Shelley Armitage, 31, and Susan Rushworth, 43, to his flat in Bradford where he used knives and power tools to butcher the women in his bath.



A packed Leeds Crown Court heard that he boasted to police that he cooked body parts and ate some raw.



Griffiths dumped Ms Blamires's dismembered body in the River Aire at Shipley, about five miles from his home in Thornton Road, Bradford.



Police divers eventually found 81 pieces of her.



But only a small fragment of Ms Armitage's body has ever been found.



No trace of Ms Rushworth has ever been found apart from blood splatterings in Griffiths's flat.



Today in court, one distraught relative confronted Griffiths in the dock as the gruesome details were revealed in full.



Others wept uncontrollably as the horrific nature of his depraved crimes were outlined.



The judge, Mr Justice Openshaw, said: "There's probably a consensus that cannibalising a victim exerts utmost power and control over them.



"It's one thing to terrorise and kill a victim. But to terrorise, kill, dismember and then eat parts of a victim is to take the exercise of power to another level."



The judge said Griffiths derived sexual gratification from the killings.



But he said the real reasons for the murders remain "to some extent obscure".



"He derived enjoyment for exerting power over others," he added.



The judge said he had no reason to doubt Griffiths's claims of cannibalism, adding: "There is no reason to doubt what he said about this. Why should he tell such a terrible lie?"



He jailed Griffiths for life and imposed a whole life tariff, which means he will remain in prison for the rest of his life.



The judge said: "The circumstances of these murders are so wicked and monstrous they leave me in no doubt the defendant should be kept in prison for the rest of his life."



Speaking after the case, detectives were asked whether Griffiths could have killed more.



They said they had no evidence to link Griffiths with any other unsolved murders or missing persons, but said the next stage of their inquiry was to explore any possible links and to talk to the serial killer.



The court heard one prostitute, named only as "R", was very nearly another victim when she went to Griffiths's flat as Ms Blamires's body lay inside.



But she did no go in.



Griffiths was known to the authorities, with convictions for possessing weapons and carrying out a string of violent assaults in his youth and early adult life.



And the court heard how he had undergone psychiatric assessments since he was 17 years old, had a long-standing preoccupation with murder and idolised killers like the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe.



Griffiths even told a probation officer he would kill when aged in his 30s.



But a series of experts said that although he had a personality disorder he did not have a psychotic mental illness.



However, the detective in charge of the inquiry, Det Supt Sukhbir, said it would be "inappropriate" to comment on any "missed opportunities" in the years leading up to his murder spree. Griffiths, who has a degree in psychology, has never given any explanation for his crimes.



He was caught when a caretaker at the flats where he lived saw horrific CCTV footage of Ms Blamires's final moments in May this year. Griffiths shot her in the head with a crossbow.



When he was arrested Griffiths told police "I've killed loads" and claimed he had eaten some of Ms Blamires's flesh, adding: "That's part of the magic".



Griffiths admitted three counts of murder today.