February 2004

Man jailed for life for care home killings

A jobless former abattoir worker was today jailed for life, with a minimum of 20 years to be served before he can be considered for parole, for the murder of two vulnerable teenagers at a care home.

Peter Newbery strangled and stabbed 16-year-old friends Samantha Barton and George Green at the Leece Lodge halfway care house, on the Isle of Man, in February 2002.

The 23-year-old was found guilty of the two murders last December, following a six-week trial at the island’s court of justice in its capital, Douglas.

Sentencing him to life imprisonment, Simon Fawcus, the judge – known as a deemster on the Isle of Man – said that Newbery had shown “no remorse” for the killings.

Acting Deemster Fawcus said: “I have read the psychiatric and psychological reports on you, and they make sorry reading. There is nothing in them which serves as any form of mitigation for what you did.

“Their content gives a chilling insight into the sort of young man you are and how, leading a life of self-centredness and violence, you may have come to commit these, your most serious offences.

“You have shown not the slightest remorse for taking these young lives. And whatever lives they were leading, they did not deserve to be treated in the way you treated them or to be killed.”

Newbery showed no emotion as the verdict was passed down.

Newbery, from Willaston, Isle of Man, attacked the pair in a squabble over drugs.

The day before the murder, Barton had invited Green, Newbery and another friend back to her home to smoke cannabis, and had boasted about having a rock of crack cocaine.

Newbery, who was said by the prosecution to have wanted the crack cocaine, later returned to the house and attacked Barton and Green, stabbing them and strangling them with shoelaces.

He also sexually assaulted the victims, both before and after their deaths.

He left Barton’s body at Leece Lodge, and dumped Green’s in nearby scrubland. DNA bloodstains on the shoelaces linked him to the crimes.

Both victims had been known to social services and police on the island.

Barton was living a semi-independent life in her own flat at the Leece Lodge complex at the time of the killings. She had moved to the Isle of Man from Dublin when she was a young girl.

She suffered from spina bifida, and began having emotional difficulties at the age of seven, when her father left the family home and the island.

She was first taken into care at the age of 10, and by the age of 12 had been placed in the juvenile wing of the island’s adult prison following charges of assault and criminal damage.

The decision to put her in jail at such a young age was criticised by human rights campaigners. Following her spell in prison, she was taken to the UK mainland for specialist psychiatric and psychological treatment.

However, her teenage years continued to be troubled, and she was regularly in court for drug, assault and theft-related offences.

Green was branded a “one-man crimewave” by a magistrate on the island in 1999, when he was 13 years old. His offences included assault, robbery, burglary and criminal damage.

He spent time at the Eden Grove specialist residential school in Appleby, Cumbria, but left in December 2001 and refused to return.

Eden Grove principal Ian McCredy described him as a “popular young man who did very well while with us, and made considerable progress in both his work experience and academic work”.

Isle of Man authorities have since closed Leece Lodge and vowed that it will not be used as a care home again.