Teen found guilty for brutal murder of his mother

GUILTY: Keiren George Smith

MURDERED: Leah Whittle

First published in News Bournemouth Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

A TEENAGER has been found guilty of murdering his mother in a ‘horrific and sustained attack’.

Kieren George Smith, aged 17, stabbed Leah Whittle 94 times at their Weymouth flat on July 21 this year.

The unanimous verdict was delivered yesterday morning at Winchester Crown Court by a jury of six men and six women after five hours of deliberation which began on Friday afternoon.

Smith, wearing a grey and black tracksuit top, showed little emotion as he was convicted. Reporting restrictions banning his identity were lifted by His Honour Judge Guy Boney.

Smith, who was 16 at the time of the attack, subjected his mother to a sustained attack with a knife which penetrated her vital organs, including heart, liver and lungs.

During the trial, the court heard evidence from pathologist Doctor Basil Purdue that Ms Whittle, aged 42, had been dealt an early blow which severed her spinal cord and ‘rendered her helpless’.

After the attack, Smith changed out of his bloody clothes, escaped down a drainpipe and made his way to Portland where he was arrested the next day.

He denied the murder, saying that a mystery person or people had entered the flat and killed his mother. He alleged that they stabbed his mother in revenge for a drug debt incurred by his brother.

The prosecution maintained that Smith had lost his temper and stabbed Ms Whittle in a rage.

Speaking after the verdict, Detective Inspector Marcus Hester of the Dorset Police Major Crime Team said: “This case involves a particularly horrific and sustained attack on a woman who was unable to defend herself.

“The jury has recorded the correct verdict and sentencing will take place in due course.

“This is a very tragic case of a young man who, through his own violent actions, has killed his mother and who has to face the consequences of those actions as well as dealing with the loss of his mother.

“Our sympathies are with the family and friends of Leah Whittle, who I know are still dealing with her loss.”

Smith, the youngest of Ms Whittle’s children, had admitted earlier in the trial to sometimes losing his temper and blacking out.

He said that during a rage, he couldn’t remember what he had done, but knew he regretted his actions.

The prosecution argued that it was during one of these episodes that Smith killed his mother with a knife he bought from the internet – although the weapon was never recovered.

The teenager had said he had an ‘interest’ in knives but that he ‘didn’t know why’ he liked them, he just did’.

Smith, who has previous convictions of theft and criminal damage was also dealt a formal warning in 2009 for assault and battery.

He was due to be sentenced for the murder of Leah Whittle today.

Community Leaders Express Sympathy at ‘Incredibly Sad Verdict’

COMMUNITY leaders have said they are pleased justice has been done for the family and friends of Leah Whittle.

Westham ward councillor Ian James said: “I’m glad this has been brought to a conclusion.

“It proves the judicial system works. Everyone wants to live in a safer community. I’m really pleased the police have got that result.

“This was such a distressing crime. It makes it seem worse somehow because it was his own mum.”

Westham ward councillor Gill Taylor said her sympathy goes out to Ms Whittle’s family following the verdict.

“This is incredibly sad and my sympathy goes out to all the family.

“Weymouth is generally a very safe area and has a very low crime rate.

“This sort of thing doesn’t happen very often,” she said.

Councillor Geoff Petherick, spokesman for community safety, said: “This is a very very sad case.

“I wasn’t present at the case. Having been on jury service myself, I’m sure they reached the correct conclusion.

“I send my condolences to the family. This is a very tragic case.”

Neighbours speak of their shock at tragic death

NEIGHBOURS and residents have spoken of their shock and horror at the events that unfolded in their midst.

Gordon Day, of Benville Road, said the residents could not believe what happened.

He said: “It’s a terrible thing and really unusual for this area.

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard what had happened, no-one could.

“I recognised Leah when I saw her picture in the paper but I didn’t know the family.

“I could never understand how he could stab her that many times.

“From the first reports of the trial it seemed as if he was guilty, I wasn’t surprised by the verdict.

“You don’t think something like this would happen here as it’s nice neighbourhood to live in.”

A resident of Fiveways Court, who did not want to be named, said: “I was home when it happened – it’s awful to think of.

“I was very shocked when I found out, you just don’t expect that.

“I think he should have admitted it, he blamed his own brother and that’s awful. He should sit in his cell and think about what he’s done.

“I don’t feel sorry for him, he did it and he should pay for it. How could you kill your own mum?

“Leah was quite quiet, I used to say hello when I saw her around, but I never saw him.

“I’m glad the verdict’s out and she can lay in peace now.

“He’s got to live with this for the rest of his life.

“I really feel for the family.”

Another resident of the building said: “I know the family from Portland. I used to babysit Leah and her twin brother when they were young.

“It’s quite a close-knit community and this doesn’t make you feel safe.

“Leah was always quite quiet, I used to see her around the building sometimes but I never saw Keiren.

“It was such a shock – it’s disgusting what he’s done.

“He and his mum used to keep having arguments, he was always having a go at her, and the family did have their problems.

“There’s no excuse for what he did.”

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