Parents stand by son who tried to have them killed

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The Independent Online

The parents of an Asperger’s sufferer who tried to have them killed saw their son sentenced to an indefinite hospital order today, despite their pleas for leniency.

Christopher Monks, 25, persuaded 20-year-old Shaun Skarnes, whom he had met online three months earlier, to stab the couple while they were asleep at their home in Chorley, Lancashire. The plan failed when Monks’s father, also Christopher, woke to find Skarnes in his bedroom with a large kitchen knife and managed to disarm him.

Monks was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order yesterday and Skarnes, of Ellesmere Port, Merseyside, will serve an indeterminate term for public protection and cannot be considered for parole for at least three and a half years.

The pair were convicted despite the fact that Monks’s father, also Christopher, and his wife Elizabeth have fully supported their son, who was adopted at the age of 10 months. They argued that his condition meant he was unable to separate fantasy from reality and that he had never intended to have them murdered.

Monks had met Skarnes online in November 2008 and told him that he wanted his parents dead because they were over-protective and treated him like a child.

The trial, in July, heard that Skarnes had gone to the house Monks shared with his parents in February last year to play computer games. He left, telling Mr and Mrs Monks he was going to catch a train home, but instead hid in a nearby park and returned late at night.

The court heard he agreed to kill the parents in return for sexual favours, which would end in Monks allowing Skarnes to bite off his penis.

Both men argued they were acting as part of role play but a jury at Preston Crown Court disagreed and found them guilty of conspiracy to murder after barely one hour of deliberation in July.

Sentencing the pair at Preston Crown Court, Mr Justice McCombe said he felt for Monks’s parents. “No court could fail to be moved by the unstinting love they have for their son,” he said. “In their own words in a letter sent to me they say ‘Whatever sentence is passed, we will serve it with him’.”

But he added both men continued to present a “significant” risk of harm to the public. “I recognise that Mr and Mrs Monks find this difficult to accept but the court has a duty to protect the public and ensure that they are not released into the community until that risk is eliminated.”