Smirking killer Kiaran Stapleton told he faces life in prison for murder of Indian student Anuj Bidve

Kiaran Stapleton guilty of random point-blank gun attack on Boxing Day that horrified nation

A man who shot dead an Indian student at point-blank range in a random and motiveless attack was warned he faces the rest of his life in jail after being found guilty of murder.

Kiaran Stapleton, 21, who boasted his nickname was "Psycho", blasted Anuj Bidve, 23, in the head last year in the early hours in Salford, Greater Manchester, as the talented post-graduate student made his way with friends to the Boxing Day sales.

Stapleton had not taken drink or drugs and his victim was entirely unknown to him. There was no racial dimension to the killing and the only possible factor that might have provoked him was a remark made earlier in the evening by an acquaintance that his ex-girlfriend was sleeping with another man. When asked how he selected his victim Stapleton said it was because he had "the biggest head".

The jury at Manchester Crown Court rejected Stapleton's claim of diminished responsibility after he earlier admitted manslaughter in a crime that sent shockwaves of horror through Britain and India.

Mr Bidve's devastated parents, Subhash and Yogini, who travelled from their home in Pune to attend the month-long trial, paid tribute to their son as "the kindest and most genuine person on this earth". But they said: "Stapleton, in the blink of an eye, and the time it took a bullet to leave the gun he was holding, turned Anuj's hopes and dreams into our living and continuous nightmare."

Detective Chief Superintendent Mary Doyle, who led the investigation, said: "There was absolutely nothing remarkable about Stapleton's history and nothing that would ever have suggested he could commit such a cold-blooded, random killing."

Stapleton, who continually smirked during proceedings, smiled as he was taken away.

Mr Justice King will pass sentence today but warned he would only be released if he was considered to no longer pose a danger to the public. "That may not ever happen," he added.

Stapleton could have been seeking status within his community although he was not known as part of a gang.

He appeared to revel in the notoriety of his new role as killer – immediately searching the internet for details of the crime and even checking into a hotel overlooking the shooting scene and photographing himself observing the investigation unfold.

He surrounded himself with friends who watched him have a teardrop tattoo on his face – a symbol for murder – just hours after the shooting. In one outburst he said of the prospect of a long sentence: "To be honest I'm not bothered. I love prison, I watch Coronation Street, I have got a fat canteen. Lock me up for 65 years. Does this face look bothered? I've even got a new rug and bedding coming for my cell."

Victim and killer were of strikingly different characters. Whereas Mr Bidve was brought up to know the difference between right and wrong, his assailant was the "complete opposite", the Bidve family said. Anuj was a widely-admired son of an middle-class family who studied hard and whose parents borrowed money to send him to Britain to complete his education.

At Lancaster University, which has established an annual exchange scholarship in his name, he studied postgraduate electronics and planned to return to Pune and use his skills to build a successful career.

Stapleton by contrast grew up in a family of nine on the tough Ordsall estate in Salford and was distantly related to some of Greater Manchester's most notorious criminals. But, despite scarcely attending school from the age of 11, he held down a factory job and stayed loyal to his partner and child until his mood swings led to the end of the relationship.

Yet while police were astonished that he had committed such a serious crime, he had a history of low level criminality including violence and carried out a road rage attack shortly before he killed Mr Bidve.

Much of the evidence focused on Stapleton's mental condition. Both sides agreed he had an anti-social personality disorder and psychopathic traits which meant he was unable to feel remorse and demonstrated extreme callousness– although this fell short of being a psychopath.

He was arrested after his friend Ryan Holden told police he had witnessed the shooting.

News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
News
Sir Chris Hoy won six Olympic golds - in which four events?
news
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform