Child killer jailed for life after attacking elderly woman with knife

A man who murdered a three-year-old girl in 1979 has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 17 years for the attempted murder of a woman in a row over a garden rake while he was released from prison on licence.

Stephen Chafer was 17 when he was jailed for life for sexually assaulting three-year-old Lorraine Holt, before knifing her to death.

He found her sitting in the snow in tears near her home in Derby, then carried her to a nearby vicarage where he sexually assaulted her and stabbed her 39 times.

Now aged 57, he was living under the pseudonym Stephen Leonard when he launched a frenzied knife attack on 60-year-old Fay Mills.

Mrs Mills, who has dementia, was so badly injured that police believed she was already dead when they arrived at her Peterborough home on June 23 last year.

Chafer was convicted at trial in December last year of the attempted murder of Mrs Mills and of the common assault of her neighbour Mark Patchett, who tried to go to her aid.

He was sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court on Friday, where he appeared under his pseudonym.

Judge David Farrell QC told him: “The worrying aspect of this offence is, as with the previous murder, that you have attacked a particularly vulnerable person and the attack was with a knife with particular severity.”

He said Chafer, who he described as a “serious risk to members of the public and particularly women”, would be 74 years of age before he could be considered for release from prison.

“I consider the parole board to consider the sentencing remarks that I make today,” he said.

Flanked by three security officers in the dock, Chafer looked downwards throughout the hearing and showed no reaction as he was led to the cells.

Mr Patchett, who previously served in the Armed Forces, suffered a cut to his face as he confronted Chafer.

Mr Patchett said in a statement that the scene was “like a house of horrors … with blood everywhere”.

Judge Farrell ruled that £750 be awarded to Mr Patchett in recognition of his bravery.

Prosecutor Charles Falk said it was “frankly a miracle that (Mrs Mills) has survived”.

The court heard that Mrs Mills’s daughter Sheila Mills had gone away to Kent on the weekend her mother was attacked and believed her mother was in the care of a “close friend”.

Mr Falk, summarising a victim impact statement from Sheila Mills, said: “She trusted Stephen with everything. He betrayed her trust. She cannot understand how wrong she could have been.”