Knifeman convicted of pensioner’s murder after savage summit stabbing

Matthew Cooper, PA

A knifeman who stabbed a hillwalker in a random attack “just for the sake of killing somebody” has been convicted of murder after jurors rejected his claim of diminished responsibility.

Moses Christensen walked around 20 miles to Shropshire’s 540-metre Brown Clee Hill before what he himself described as a “savage” and “animalistic” attack on Richard Hall near the summit.

Jurors at Stafford Crown Court deliberated for less than three hours on Wednesday before unanimously convicting the 22-year-old of Mr Hall’s murder.

Police officers at the scene
Police officers at the scene near the summit of Brown Clee Hill (Matthew Cooper/PA)

Giving evidence by video-link last week, Home Office-approved pathologist Dr Brett Lockyer said Mr Hall had suffered 26 injuries, including a “horrific” wound to his hand and another which had penetrated his skull.

The court also heard Christensen, who had armed himself with two combat knives, was being sought by police at the time – after telling a relative he wanted to kill three teachers.

Opening the case at the start of the trial, prosecutor Adrian Keeling QC said: “The case against Moses Christensen is this – on Thursday August 13 last year he unlawfully killed Richard Hall.

“He had never met him before, but with a combat-style knife he stabbed him to death as he walked on Brown Clee Hill.

“The defendant had no reason at all to bear Mr Hall any ill will, let alone to kill him.

“But the defendant, by his own admission, wanted to kill someone and Mr Hall, walking on his own, was chosen by the defendant as an easy target.”

Richard Hall (Handout/PA)
Richard Hall (Handout/PA)

Christensen, who has a history of depression dating back to his early teens, was arrested after knocking on the door of a house in the Burwarton area and telling the occupant he had committed a crime.

After informing police called to the property that he had “cut himself whilst committing a murder”, Christensen went on to describe how he had seen Mr Hall emerge “out of the fog” on the hill.

Describing the defendant’s “chilling” account of what happened, Mr Keeling added: “In interview he said this: ‘I would like to point out that this wasn’t just an outburst of emotion or something’.

“It wasn’t a spontaneous event. He said he wanted to do it, in his words, silently … without there being any witnesses.”

The body of Mr Hall, from Perton in south Staffordshire, was found near a communications mast.

Mr Keeling told the court Christensen, of Corser Street, Oldswinford, Stourbridge, was being sought by police after telling a relative he had “a desire to kill three of his teachers and eat the flesh of one of them”.

Christensen, who is said to have autism spectrum disorder and had previously spent periods of time living rough in the countryside, denied murder.

Man found dead in Shropshire
A police cordon at the foot of Brown Clee Hill (Matthew Cooper/PA)

The court heard Christensen told police he wanted to kill someone “just for the sake of killing somebody” – as a “sort of lifelong desire and ambition”.

It is also alleged he replied to a question asking if he felt any remorse with the words: “Yeah, but quite minimal.”

Concluding his opening remarks to the jury, Mr Keeling said of Christensen: “His account makes it absolutely plain that he was able to understand the nature of his own conduct – that he formed rational judgements and made rational decisions.

“The simple reality is that he killed because that is exactly what he wanted to do.”

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Dinesh Maganty told the trial he believed the “significantly impaired” psychotic condition of Christensen was the only explanation for the killing.

But another expert witness, forensic psychiatrist Dr Suraj Shenoy, said the defendant had no clear symptoms of psychosis and was not “acting randomly or in a frenzy” on the day of the killing.

Adjourning the case and remanded the killer in custody until March 16, Mr Justice Pepperall told Christensen: “I am going to delay sentencing.

“But understand this. There is only one sentence that can be passed and that is a sentence of life imprisonment.”