Essex

Breck Bednar murder: Lewis Daynes sentenced to life in prison

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe BBC's Daniel Boettcher reports on how Lewis Daynes lured Breck Bednar

A teenager has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a 14-year-old boy he met through online gaming.

Computer engineer Lewis Daynes, 19, will serve a minimum term of 25 years for fatally stabbing Breck Bednar in February 2014.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard he lured the teenager, who lived in Surrey, to his flat in Grays, Essex, after months of talking online.

The murder had a sexual motive, the court heard.

Sentencing Daynes, of Rosebery Road, Grays, Mrs Justice Cox said: "Having lured the young victim to your flat, you murdered him.

"You had befriended Breck and a number of other adolescent friends through an online community.

"I'm sure that this murder was driven by sadistic or sexual motivation."

Speaking outside court, Lynn Harvey from the Crown Prosecution service described Daynes as a "controlling and manipulative individual".

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionBreck's mother Lorin LaFave says he was "a gentle, calm, intelligent, good humoured and handsome boy"
Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption Breck Bednar was "lured" to his killer's home before he was fatally stabbed, the court heard

After the sentencing, Breck's mother, Lorin LaFave, described her son's killer as a "vile menace".

"No amount of years behind bars will ever change the poisonous attitude and actions of a psychotic animal who can behave this way," she said.

"No amount of years will bring back the lovely boy taken from us."

A post-mortem examination found Daynes had slashed his victim's throat.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionLewis Daynes' 999 call has been released by Essex police

There was evidence of sexual activity between the two shortly before Breck was killed, prosecutor Richard Whittam QC told the court.

Shortly before the killing, Daynes bought duct tape, condoms and syringes online.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard Daynes had promised Breck "great wealth" through a fictional computer business.

They started talking on a gaming website in 2013, but friends and Breck's family suspected he was being controlled and manipulated by Daynes.

The pair exchanged a number of messages on social media and gaming conference call software "TeamSpeak".

In the days before the murder, Daynes had instructed Breck to tell his father he was going to a friend's house, and to later ask to stay overnight.

Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption Breck's mother said no amount of years would ever bring back her "lovely boy"
Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption Daynes had sent a number of messages to Breck, giving him instructions about what to tell his father

The teenagers met face-to-face for the first time on 16 February, the evening before Breck was stabbed.

The next morning, Daynes called police and told them Breck had tried to take his own life, and in the struggle to save him, he had stabbed the schoolboy.

The nature of Breck's injuries meant death would have been "very rapid", Mr Whittam said.

Duct tape had been used to tie Breck's ankles and wrists. His clothes were found in a bin bag in Daynes' flat.

Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption Daynes submerged encrypted electronic equipment in water before police arrived at his house
Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption A bin bag of Breck Bednar's clothes was found in Dayne's flat

Five other counts against Daynes, including the rape of another boy, were not pursued as there was not a realistic prospect of a conviction, the prosecution said.

It is understood the offences were reported to Essex Police in 2011 and were investigated but officers decided not to take any further action.

The crimes were reinvestigated as part of the murder inquiry and charges were brought.

The matter has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is investigating the conduct of both Essex Police and Surrey Police.

The investigation into Surrey's force will focus on its response to a telephone report from Ms LaFave saying her son was being groomed online by Daynes.

IPCC investigators have served a misconduct notice on a staff member at Surrey Police contact centre who has been interviewed.

Another staff member, who took the call, resigned from the force in August.

Surrey Police said it had carried out a review of practices in its call handling centre and implemented changes to improve the way information is handled and shared.

Essex Police referred itself to the IPCC in December.

More on this story