'Sadistic torturer' jailed for life


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The Independent Online

A man who "sadistically tortured" his former partner before shooting her and their two-year-old daughter dead will spend the rest of his life in prison.

David Oakes, 50, went to Christine Chambers' house in Braintree, Essex, last June, where he subjected her to "degrading assaults" before blasting her and their daughter Shania with a shotgun.

Today at Chelmsford Crown Court a jury of seven men and five women found Oakes, of Canney Road, Steeple, Essex, guilty of two counts of murder after nearly nine hours of deliberation.

Mr Justice Fulford ordered Oakes to serve a whole life sentence, meaning he will never be released from prison.

He said: "These tragic and needless deaths occurred in deeply shocking circumstances.

"A bullying and controlling man, who had frequently inflicted violence on Miss Chambers during the six years of their relationship, he killed his ex-partner and their young daughter simply because he knew she could not bear to be with him and wished to start a new life."

Outside court Miss Chambers' father, Ken Chambers, held back tears as he said: "I hope he rots in hell."

Supporting by his wife, Jean, he added: "To lose a daughter and granddaughter in the way in which David Oakes brutally tortured Christine and then murdered her and Shania is emotionally beyond description and belief.

"It is our sincerest hope that he suffers in some way every day of what is left of his hateful, miserable life."

The judge told the court that Miss Chambers "carried not a shred of blame" for what happened.

Oakes arrived at the house the night before the couple were due in court for a hearing to decide the custody of Shania.

He had a history of attacking Miss Chambers, the court heard.

Oakes made Miss Chambers beg and proclaim her love for him while at the same time "torturing" her.

The trial heard he forced Miss Chambers to cut off her own hair, after arriving at the house with the shotgun, a drill and an axe.

Miss Chambers' family wept as the judge said: "Shania would have been able to see her gravely injured mother and she would have witnessed some of these dreadful events.

"Throughout she would have been aware of her mother's cries and tears.

"That little girl must have been terrified.

"He then put the barrel of the 12 bore shot gun against her head and pulled the trigger.

"No civilised, decent human being could ever describe that as being the result of love."

Oakes did not appear in court to be sentenced, after prison guards raised concerns he would harm himself, defence counsel, Richard Connolly, said.

He was absent for much of the trial.

When he appeared to give evidence he had visible facial injuries, suffered when he put the gun to his own head in a failed suicide attempt after the killings.

Miss Chambers' 10-year-old daughter with her former partner Ian Flitt witnessed the attack but escaped out of the bedroom window to her father's house nearby.

The court heard she had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder ever since.

Through his solicitor, Mr Flitt said: "The family are now finally beginning to piece together their lives and would hope that in due course the events of the last 11 months can be put behind them."

Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Godfrey O'Toole said Oakes was one of the "most despicable criminals" he had dealt with in his 30-year career.

He added: "Not content with what he had done, he later sought to excuse himself of his murderous acts and blame Christine for the death of her beloved daughter.

"The accusation was a vile and repulsive attempt to escape justice by a contemptible individual."