A British man is sentenced to life for the second time today for a bloody attack on a defenceless victim. Stephen Leonard (57) received a first life in 1979 for the murder of a 3-year-old girl. That case was so horrible that its details were never revealed. In 2002, however, he was released after a parole committee ruled that he was “no longer dangerous”. In the summer of last year, however, he struck again. Equally merciless.
Nobody had initially made the link between the two things. After his release in 2002, Leonard had adopted a new name. Only last week it became clear that he was Stephen Chafer, the man who had lured, raped and killed the little Lorraine Holt (3) in 1979.
Lorraine had played outside in the snow on the fateful day, in the garden of the house in Derby where she lived with her family. But the girl had walked into the street. Stephen Chafer – then 17 years old – found her while she was crying in the snow. He had already drunk something and gave her candy. Then he took her to a local church. There he covered her mouth with his hand, he misused her and then stabbed her with a knife 39 time.
“What is known about what he did to her is just the tip of the iceberg,” her father replies to the Australian news site News.com.au in response to the new process. “You just can not publish some of the things that he did with her.”
The father of Lorraine was the first to be arrested by the police – “it was always the parents” – but he was released again. Stephen Chafer – a family in law – was accused of the murder two days later. “He came to our house after the facts,” said Jim Holt. “If I had known then what he had done, he would not live anymore.”
Chafer pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was in prison for 23 years when a parole committee decided that he could be released early because he was no longer in danger.
A little over 10 years later, however, he was already away from the straight path. He disabled the fire alarm in the building with nine flats where he lived and set his apartment on fire. He was arrested and sentenced to 26 months in prison for arson. In August 2017 he was conditionally released and it was during that period that he again hit. The victim was Faye Mills (60), a friend whom he had known for 15 years and who suffered from dementia.
On June 23 last year he moved to her home in Peterborough. The two were arguing about a rake and suddenly Stephen grabbed the tool and hit Mills on the head. Then he grabbed a knife and stabbed her. He also tried to cut her throat up to 3 times, according to the BBC.
During the process the attack was described as “outrageous”. “He gave her several stab wounds all over her body and almost beheaded her,” said public prosecutor Charles Falk. “He also tried to stab a neighbour who had heard Ms. Mills screaming and was trying to help her.”
That neighbour – Mark Patchett – later told the news agency PA about the attack. “He was torturing her. He stabbed her more than 30 times. I think he even tried to cut off her head. He dived on me with the knife, but I could dodge it, making it scaly on my face. If I had not done that, I probably would not have been there today.”
Mills survived the attack by miracle. Due to her terrible injuries, the police officers who were first on the scene thought that the woman had died. During the process it became clear that she will never fully recover. Leonard stated that he was attacking the woman after something had been broken in his head. According to his lawyer, he suffers from “various mental disorders”.
Last month he was found guilty of attempted murder and today he heard his punishment. He was given life sentence again and can now be released at the earliest in 17 years, when he is 74.
Judge David Farrell called him this time a “particularly dangerous individual” and a “serious risk for citizens and especially women”. He also lifted heavily that the man had chosen a vulnerable victim for the second time. “I hope that the 17-year Parole Committee will take into account my comments from today”, he said.
The father of Lorraine closely followed the process, which he described as “terrible” for his family. Especially when it became clear that the man was actually the murderer of his daughter and her picture appeared on all news sites and in all newspapers. “It was as if it was 1979 again and that everything happened again”, he said.
In 2000 he did everything to keep the killer of his daughter in the cell but in vain. “I knew it would happen again, it was just a matter of time. But no one wanted to listen. To say that I am angry is an understatement.”