Man jailed for life after ‘brutal’ murder of grandfather in south London in first televised sentencing from Old Bailey

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A south London man has been jailed for life for the “brutal” murder of his grandfather in the first ever televised sentencing at the Old Bailey.

Judge Sarah Munro QC made legal history on Thursday when she sentenced Ben Oliver, 25, to a minimum of 10 years and eight months in prison for murder.

Oliver, from Bexley Heath, was cleared of murder but admitted murdering David Oliver, 74, in Mottingham on January 19 last year.

The court heard how Oliver stabbed his bedridden grandfather in a frenzied attack with a kitchen knife shortly before midday.

The court was told that his autistic spectrum disorder, combined with factors, reduced his responsibility for the murder.

In 2016, Oliver was convicted of sexual offenses against a 15-year-old girl and was released from youth custody in September 2019.

Judge Munroe noted that he loved his grandparents but turned to hatred for his grandfather when he learned of the allegations of sexual abuse against him.

The judge said Oliver developed “obsessive tunnel vision” which led to the decision to kill in a “brutal” way.

Judge Sarah Monroe

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Outlining the events, the judge told Oliver: “On the 19th the carers came to attend to your grandfather’s needs as usual.

“Your nan bought him biscuits and coffee when he left. It was the last time she saw him alive.

“You were supposed to be restless and couldn’t rest. You asked to lie down with your nan which you did.

“However, when she got up you went downstairs. It was around 11.30-11.45. You picked a knife from the kitchen and you went into your grandfather’s room.

“You slashed his throat repeatedly, you stabbed his mouth so he couldn’t cry and his eyes so he couldn’t look at you when you hit him.

“He raised his right arm and tried in vain to save himself. He was completely powerless.

“There were a total of 21 stab wounds to the face, seven to the torso and obvious defensive wounds. He died very quickly from massive blood loss.

“Nan called 999 while you were sitting next to her. At one point you went upstairs and sat on the window sill.

“I’m satisfied you intended to jump to your death but your nan persuaded you to come in and you sat calmly with her until the police arrived.

“You were fully co-operative. Your nan told the police ‘we all wanted to kill him’.

After weighing the aggravating and mitigating features, the judge told Oliver: “In your case I think the seriousness of the offense warrants a life sentence.”

Ben Oliver’s sentencing at the Old Bailey was televised for the first time.

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However, the judge accepted Oliver’s guilty plea and expression of remorse when he told a probation officer: “I’ve made it worse, made the pain worse.”

Earlier in mitigation, Jennifer Dempster QC said: “The word tragic is a word that might be used to describe some cases in this building – in this particular case it is not.”

He said a series of “extremely tragic events” combined to create an “almost perfect storm” that led to the murder.

“This is a young man who was let down on so many levels by people who should have been looking after him,” he said.

The move to broadcast Oliver’s sentencing was announced by the Ministry of Justice on Wednesday and was hailed by broadcasters as a “historic moment for open justice”.

Under the law change, senior circuit judges sitting in the High Court and Crown Courts can film their sentencing remarks.

To protect the privacy of victims, witnesses and jurors, only the judge will be on-camera.

Speaking after the verdict, Detective Chief Inspector Kate Kern, who led the investigation, said: “This is a tragic case that has torn a family apart. My thoughts are with them today.”