Life sentence for man who killed and dismembered his drinking partner

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A man was jailed for life yesterday for murdering his friend and scattering the dismembered body parts across a housing estate.

Richard Markham, 28, was found guilty of killing his drinking partner Tristian Lovelock, by hitting him over the head with a hammer 15 times before attacking his body with a saw and hacksaw. The victim's head and limbs were discovered scattered across the estate where Markham lived, while the torso and an arm were found in Markham's flat.

Sentencing Markham, of Basingstoke, Hants, to life imprisonment, at Winchester Crown Court, Mr Justice Michael Morland strongly condemned the "barbarity" of the crime. He said: "The killing of Tristian Lovelock was carried out in circumstances of the utmost barbarity. I am entirely satisfied that you, Richard Markham, are a very dangerous individual.

"The sentence the law requires me to pass is one of life imprisonment and that is the sentence I pass upon you and the recommendation I shall make is that life means life."

Michael Bowes QC, counsel for Markham, told the judge that it was most likely his client would be sectioned under the Mental Health Act and transferred to hospital from prison.

During the 13-day trial, the court heard how Markham, an accounts clerk for a furniture dealer, and Mr Lovelock, who has a history of violence, were drinking alone.

When a row broke out between the two men, Mr Lovelock reportedly used a First World War bayonet to threaten Markham, who claimed he acted in self defence by attacking him and subsequently killing him.

The victim's head was later discovered in bushes by a dog walker while other parts of his body were found in the gardens of Markham's flat.

Markham fled to New York just two hours after the murder, where he was arrested while reading a newspaper on a bench in Central Park.

During the trial, Markham, the son of an Army major, told how his unhappy childhood had been punctuated by episodes of bullying at school and fits of depression that had continued in his adult life.

The guilty verdict, which was reached by a jury after three of hours deliberation, was welcomed by the parents of Mr Lovelock, 25, who had two young children.

"When Tristian's life was taken, so was ours in a way," said his mother Ruth Halliday outside the court. "Nothing will ever be the same again."