Life sentence for man who killed 7-year-old boy

A MAN said by a judge to have 'a morbid interest in young boys' was given a life sentence yesterday for murdering a seven-year-old.

The judge, Mr Justice Blofeld, recommended that Richard Blenkey, 33, should serve 20 years. Blenkey strangled Paul Pearson at Marske, Cleveland, on 14 August 1991. Blenkey, unemployed, of Saltburn, Cleveland, had previously denied murder but changed his plea to guilty before his trial at Teesside Crown Court was due to begin.

The judge told him he had committed 'a most appalling murder' and that Paul had suffered 'a terrifying experience' as he was strangled for sexual gratification.

The court was told that Paul was throttled with a length of garden twine in a chicken hut on Blenkey's allotment. He had to pass it while cycling along a footpath on returning home after playing with a friend at Saltburn.

Paul's tracksuit bottoms, underpants, shoes and socks were removed during the attack and there were signs he was victim of a sex act, said Stephen Williamson QC, for the prosecution.

His body and bicycle were found hidden in a nearby wooded gully the next day.

Barrie Stewart, for the defence, said a prolonged psychiatric examination had found Blenkey's mentality to be almost sub-normal, but there was no evidence of any mental illness. 'We are dealing with a pathetic, very immature young man of limited intelligence,' he said.

Mr Williamson said the Pearsons had moved to their new home at Marske just a fortnight before the murder and Paul had made friends with several children in the area.

One was a boy called Ian Ramsdale, whose parents had a plot on the same allotment as Blenkey and were friendly with him. As a result of this Paul became known to his eventual killer.

After first visiting the allotments with his mother, Julie, Paul got into the habit of going back to the area and once helped the Ramsdale family to pick peas on Blenkey's site.

Mr Williamson said that after killing Paul, Blenkey left his body in the shed and went to the Ramsdales' home where he was due to babysit. He returned later to dump the body in the gully.

He said that Blenkey's palm print was later discovered on the handlebars of Paul's bicycle. One of Paul's socks was found in Blenkey's shed and his underpants under straw on the floor.

Blenkey had denied the killing or even seeing Paul that day. However, fibres on Paul's body linked him to the attack and further evidence indicated the boy had been in the shed.

(Photograph omitted)

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