Shropshire

Steven Churchill guilty of murdering Jane Edwards

A man who previously killed his sister has been jailed for life for the "brutal and callous" murder of a Shropshire woman.

Steven Churchill, 52, of Stephenson Road, Shrewsbury, was sentenced at Stafford Crown Court on Wednesday.

He admitted stabbing Jane Edwards, 59, to death at her home in Hanwood near Shrewsbury in December 2010.

After the hearing, Ms Edwards' brother branded Churchill "brutal and callous".

In a statement, he also highlighted that Churchill had killed before.

Churchill had admitted the manslaughter of his sister in 1986 but was released in 2002.

The court heard Churchill, a former soldier and Falklands War veteran, had killed his 24-year-old sister, Lynn Painter, in a "planned and ruthless attack".

A hospital order was imposed on him after he admitted the killing on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

'Visions of blood'

Prosecutor Roger Smith QC said Churchill and Ms Edwards had met at Shelton Hospital in Shrewsbury where both were involved in voluntary service user work.

He had arranged to go to her flat in Caradoc View for a Christmas meal when he had planned to attack her.

Mr Smith said Churchill, who had changed his name from Steven Painter, had later told police he had been attending an Evangelical church and had stopped using his medication.

The court heard Ms Edwards had suffered more than 50 stab wounds to her face neck and body.

"He told police he was stabbing indiscriminately and she was shouting, so he cut her throat to silence her," Mr Smith said.

Churchill was ordered to serve a minimum of 26 years in prison.

In a statement issued after the sentencing, Ms Edwards' brother Clive said: "Steven Churchill did not just kill Jane that day, but he killed her mother, who continually asked after her daughter up until the day she died herself only a matter of weeks ago.

"Churchill was responsible for the most awful of crimes. Our only relief is that he had now pleaded guilty and not put the family through what would have been a harrowing trial."

Mental health questions

The statement, read out by Det Con Robert Loach of West Mercia Police outside the court, also said "very serious questions have been posed to the mental health service and this will continue until we receive a complete understanding of the care this man is received."

The South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which is responsible for Shelton Hospital, said the trust encouraged service users to be involved in voluntary work to help guide improvements to the service.

A statement said: "Stephen Painter (Stephen Churchill) became a volunteer at Shelton Hospital over eight years ago. He never worked on any of the wards but was used as an involvement representative.

"At the time the Shropshire mental health services were responsible to the Primary Care Trust. Since merging with South Staffordshire in 2007, volunteers are recruited using guidance from the South Staffordshire policy for the use of volunteers."

The statement added that there was a robust recruitment process for all new volunteers including Criminal Record Bureau checks and references.

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