A man who bludgeoned two pensioners to death during a series of violent robberies to fund his crack cocaine addiction was given 26 life sentences yesterday.
Andrew Aston attacked 24 other pensioners in their homes over three months, often posing as a policeman. The two men who died, George Dale, 87, and Francis Hobley, 80, were both beaten in front of their wives.
Aston, 29, hit Mr Dale so hard with an iron bar that he was left paralysed with a broken neck and a severed spinal cord. He died in hospital two weeks later.
Nine days after the first attack, Aston hit Mr Hobley, who broke his hip when he was beaten to the ground. He developed complications in hospital and died nearly three months after the attack.
Aston became the prime suspect for the attacks, in and around Birmingham between January and March last year, after a criminal profiler was brought in to examine the evidence.
Detectives watched him for three days and arrested him after he tricked his way into the home of a 92-year-old man.
A jury at Birmingham Crown Court took almost six hours to find the former butcher guilty of the two murders. He was also convicted of four counts of assault with intent to rob and 20 charges of robbery.
Scientific tests on his jeans had shown they were stained with the blood of both Aston and Mr Dale. Stolen items were also found under the floorboards of his home at Stechford, Birmingham.
Sentencing Aston, Mr Justice Butterfield described his offences as brutal and cowardly. He said Aston might never be released. Aston, who refused to leave the cells to hear the verdicts, had exhibited a "gratuitous desire" to hurt his victims, the judge said.
Addressing a public gallery packed with victims' relatives, he added: "All Aston's victims were elderly, frail and vulnerable. That was no coincidence. I am satisfied that he targeted those victims, they were at his mercy and he showed them none."
Telephone records revealed that Aston followed almost every successful robbery with a call to one or other of two men known to be drug dealers.
The killer's father, Roger Aston, said he had no sympathy for his son. "I'd hang him, because as long as Andy's alive, every Christmas, every birthday, we'll remember him. I can't go near him," he said. "I have brought up two children in the world – both of them were punished in the same way and both were given love in the same way. One is a mother, a good mother. The other's a killer. Why?"
Speaking after the verdicts, Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Pallister said: "We can only take grim satisfaction that an evil danger has been removed from society for years to come."Reuse content