Twins get nine years for grandmother's killing

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The Independent Online

Twin brothers were jailed for nine years today for killing their frail grandmother after leaving their 18th birthday party to steal her life savings. Robert and Jonathan Maskell and their friend Dwane Johnston, 19, were each jailed for nine years for the manslaughter of 74-year-old Anjelica Hallwood.

Old Bailey Judge Gerald Gordon ordered that their licence period should be extended by a further three years.

He also gave them a seven-year sentence with a two-and-a-half year extended licence for robbery.

The sentences, which are concurrent, will be served at a Young Offenders Institute.

The judge told them: "It is difficult to imagine a more despicable crime."

The "geeky" twins and Johnston, all of Edmonton, north London, were cleared of Mrs Hallwood's murder following their trial last month.

The 4ft 10ins pensioner died after being beaten and asphyxiated as more than £1,000 was taken from her home in Granville Avenue, Edmonton in January, last year.

As the three were being led away, Mrs Hallwood's son Peter shouted: "Bye, scumbags."

Although the twins were not blood relatives of Mrs Hallwood, they had grown up thinking of her as their grandmother.

They called her Nana and saw her regularly with their half-sister Anna, who was Mrs Hallwood's granddaughter in a closely-knit extended family.

Mrs Hallwood had allowed Johnston, Anna's boyfriend, to stay at her home after his release from prison two days earlier after serving a sentence for motoring offences.

The family were particularly upset by CCTV pictures after the killing, showing the Maskells smiling as though they did not have a care in the world while spending the stolen cash on new mobile phones.

Judge Gordon told them: "For reasons of pure greed and regardless of the effect on her, you set out to rob her.

"You could so easily have arranged to steal while she was out and safe."

He said Mrs Hallwood had treated the Maskells as her grandsons and had given Johnston a home when no one else would.

Judge Gordon said the "thuggery" was "mindless" and had devastated Mrs Hallwood's family.

The extentended licences would mean that the youths could be recalled to prison during that period if they broke the conditions of their parole.

The twins left their party after receiving a call from Johnston.

Anthony Leonard QC, prosecuting, said: "Jonathan Maskell asked his mother whether they could leave the party to meet Johnston to get a birthday card from him. The party continued in their absence."

The three youths, who were all over 6ft, thought Mrs Hallwood had up to £3,000 stashed away.

They broke into her home and the twins found just over £1,000 as Johnston hit Mrs Hallwood in the face and put pressure on her throat as he pinned her to the ground.

After leaving, they bought a mobile top-up card and a kebab before returning to the birthday party.

Following their conviction, Mrs Hallwood's son Peter, 43, said: "They are the lowest of the low, cold and callous."

Robert and Jonathan were the sons of Mr Hallwood's former partner, and half brothers of his daughter Anna, 22.

Detective Sergeant Derek Cameron said after the case: "The twins visited her regularly when they were children and lived nearby as extended family.

"It is a very sad case. She showed them nothing but kindness."

The brothers were unemployed and spent their days living what was described as a fantasy life in chatrooms.