Life for little Joe's schoolboy killer

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The Independent Online

Schoolboy killer Michael Hamer was given a life sentence today for the murder of 11-year-old cystic fibrosis sufferer Joe Geeling.

Hamer, 15, was told by Judge Mr Justice Richard McCombe he would serve a minimum of 12 years for the killing.

Apparently driven by a sexual obsession, the teenager, who can be named for the first time today after reporting restrictions were lifted, lured Joe to his home using a fake letter purporting to be from his deputy headteacher.

He then subjected the boy, described by his parents as a "little angel", to a "sustained and savage attack", Manchester Crown Court heard today.

Hamer, who pleaded guilty this morning before the scheduled start of his trial, then used a wheelie bin to dump Joe's body in a gully in a nearby park in Bury, Greater Manchester, in March this year. It was discovered the following day.

Joe's father and mother, Tom and Gwen Geeling, sat watching Hamer as the sentence was passed.

Mr Geeling looked at his wife and shook his head as the judge announced the minimum term.

They both watched as Hamer was led, in silence, from the court.

Mr Justice McCombe, passing sentence, said Joe had many friends and kept a "humorous and comical" outlook on life despite his medical problems.

"He was clearly an intensely loved member of a close and devoted family.

"You have taken Joe from them," he told Hamer.

The judge, who excused Hamer from standing while addressing him, said the teenager had harboured "significant feelings of distress from the absence of a relationship with your father" and suffered a "significant degree" of bullying at school.

"I am now told that, within the last few days, that you have admitted to Mr Steer (Hamer's defence counsel) and to your solicitor that you made a sexual advance to Joe who responded by referring to you as 'gay' and threatening to tell others of what you had done.

"Joe, as you accept, had done absolutely nothing to encourage any such advance.

"The rejection of the advance was the immediate triggering event of what you did to Joe."

The judge then described Hamer's attack with kitchen knives as "ferocious" and occurring in a "frenzied few minutes".

"You took away Joe's life and damaged the lives of all who loved him," he added.

The judge ruled that Hamer would be kept in prison and only released when it was considered safe to do so. He passed a minimum tariff of 12 years before Hamer could be considered for parole.