Man guilty of murdering shop worker with hammer

 

A man who was acquitted of murdering a vicar and disposing of his
body was today convicted of killing a supermarket worker just four
months after his release from prison.

It took a jury less than three hours to find Christopher Hunnisett, 28, guilty of murdering 57-year-old Peter Bick on January 11 last year.

Hunnisett was convicted at Lewes Crown Court in 2002 of killing the Rev Ronald Glazebrook at his home in St Leonards, East Sussex.

The court heard he drowned the 81-year-old vicar in the bath before asking his friend to help him dismember the body which he scattered in two separate spots in Sussex.

But his conviction was quashed and he was retried for the vicar's murder in 2010 after revealing that he had been sexually abused by Mr Glazebrook.

He was acquitted in September 2010, but in January 2011 he walked into Hastings police station and told an officer that he had killed a man.

That man was 57-year-old Peter Bick, a gay supermarket worker from Bexhill, who enjoyed meeting young men over the internet for consensual sex.

Hunnisett maintained throughout the four-week trial at Lewes Crown Court that he had killed Mr Bick because he believed he was a paedophile, but the jury was told there was never any information to substantiate this.

Mr Bick was killed by five severe blows to the head with a hammer before Hunnisett strangled him with a shoelace as he lay naked on his bed.

As the foreman of the jury returned a guilty verdict, Hunnisett, of Chanctonbury Drive, Hastings, leapt over the dock in an attempt to escape and shouted "Every word I said was true".

He had to be restrained by eight people and could be heard sobbing as they tried to calm him down in the dock.

Mr Justice Saunders adjourned the case for sentencing at Woolwich Crown Court, London, on May 22.

Following the guilty verdict, Mr Bick's sister Yvonne Cowling, with the support of her husband Peter, said: "On behalf of my parents Eileen and Bernard, we as a family would like to say that we are glad that the whole ordeal is now over and we can now be left to grieve for the loss of my brother.

"He will be sorely missed by a large number of friends and family. The one thing he didn't deserve was to have such violent and horrendous death, so therefore I hope that Mr Hunnisett will never have the opportunity to commit a similar crime.

"We would like to thank and acknowledge all the hard work that Detective Chief Inspector Nick Sloan and the Sussex Police have done, with special thanks for the support and comfort from the family liaison officers and the victim support team."

Mr Sloan, from the Surrey and Sussex major crime team, said: "This was a terrible crime and the jury were clearly unconvinced by Hunnisett's claims about his motives for carrying out such a cruel and deliberate killing.

"Peter Bick's sister, together with her husband, have been present at court throughout the trial and they have had to listen to Christopher Hunnisett deliver utterly unfounded personal attacks about the character of her brother.

"They have endured this with great dignity and this is testimony to how they have conducted themselves since Peter was murdered.

"What exactly was motivating Hunnisett in the lead-up to the murder and afterwards we will perhaps never really know, but there is no doubt at all that society is a safer place now that he is in prison."

Hunnisett began to formulate his plan to track down paedophiles and sex offenders while he was still in prison.

Three hours after getting home following his release from prison, he put his plan into action by setting up false internet accounts as a form of "honeytrap".

The court heard that Hunnisett made a hit list of men he believed were either rapists or paedophiles, who he planned to "deal with", and that Mr Bick was top of that list.

Hunnisett claimed he was on a mission to protect the world from sexual offenders but the prosecutor said this was the "false claim of a cold-blooded killer".

He said Hunnisett admitted to killing Mr Bick and did not dispute that he intended to do him very serious harm, but that his mental health at the time of the incident was being called into question by the defence.

Mr Bick, who worked at Asda, had moved to Dorset Road South, Bexhill, in September 2010 having split up from his long-term partner, and regularly used social networking and dating websites to meet men for sex.

On his second meeting with Hunnisett he suffered the brutal injuries that killed him.

Hunnisett then piled suitcases, clothes hangers, sex toys, clothing, condoms and a laundry basket on top of the duvet on the bed so that someone walking into the flat would not immediately know he was there.

When officers found Mr Bick's body his hands had been crossed over his chest with a gold-coloured chain bearing a cross wrapped around his hands.

Hunnisett tried to cover his tracks by telling the court Mr Bick believed he was meeting a 15-year-old boy, but the jury did not believe him.

Hunnisett's former girlfriend Lucy Anderson told the court he liked to visit Soho in London and have sex with Thai "ladyboys", but that when it came to their own sex life he struggled to become aroused.

She said he spoke to her about killing paedophiles but she became angry with him and told him hurting people would make him as bad as them.

Following his arrest he wrote her letters from Belmarsh Prison, in Woolwich, east London.

In one he admitted wanting to hurt Mr Bick but said that he had not meant to kill him.

It read: "I wanted to stop him, Lucy. I would do anything to stop them. I just wish I did not have to sacrifice everything. My freedom, life, you. I wanted to do the right thing. Some good."

He added that things had "just got messed up on the way".

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness