A convicted double murderer who killed a third victim while he was out on licence may never be released, a judge has said.
Lawrence Bierton, 63, bludgeoned his elderly neighbour, Pauline Quinn, to death with a coffee table at her home in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, on 9 November 2021 after she refused to give him money to buy alcohol.
The “brutal” attack happened while Bierton was on licence after being jailed for life for the murder of two elderly sisters in 1995.
He admitted killing Ms Quinn, 73, but denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility, due to alcohol dependency syndrome – which caused a “mental abnormality” and led to him losing self-control, his barrister, Mark McKone KC, said.
However, jurors took less than an hour to unanimously convict Bierton of murder on Thursday, following a two-week trial at Nottingham Crown Court.
The judge, Mr Justice Pepperall, warned Bierton that he could be handed a whole-life term, meaning he will never be released.
He said: “Whether that is the sentence passed in this case, I can only decide after proper mitigation on your behalf, but be under no illusion that that sentence is very much a possibility in your case.”
Jurors were excused from future service for five years after listening to harrowing evidence during the trial, including audio of the attack.
‘Callous and chilling desire’ for murder
Bierton showed no emotion when the verdict was delivered, as Ms Quinn’s family wept in the public gallery.
He had drunk vodka and rum and taken crack cocaine and the opioid, Subutex, on the morning of her death, the court was told.
He inflicted 29 injuries on his victim, including at least 10 blows to the head during the “egregious” killing, in which he showed a “callous and chilling desire” to murder his neighbour.
Ms Quinn, who lived alone and suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulled the emergency cord in her accommodation during the attack, which happened around 4pm.
Moments later, Bierton was seen driving off in her car to see a relative before returning to the crime scene and taking away the remnants of the blood-stained coffee table.
He was “hell-bent” on avoiding a recall to prison over his drug and alcohol misuse and acted in a “calculated” and “strategic” manner, prosecutor John Cammegh KC said.
He later told police the murder “did not make sense” but said he struck Ms Quinn to “keep her quiet”.
Bierton was previously released on licence in 2017 but was recalled the following year for “repeated failures to address his behaviour” together with alcohol and drug misuse.
He was released on licence in May 2020, before moving to Rayton Spur six months later.
Bierton is due to be sentenced at the court next Wednesday.
In August, Lucy Letby became the latest of 71 people serving a whole-life sentence in England and Wales.
Judges reserve the punishment for only the most serious crimes – typically murder – where the level of planning, vulnerability of victims and scale of killing is particularly high.
Rose West and Grindr killer Stephen Port are among 67 people serving a whole-life tariff, with a further four in secure hospitals, the Ministry of Justice said.