'Crossbow Cannibal' gets life term for Bradford murders

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A student who called himself the "Crossbow Cannibal" has been jailed for life for the "wicked and monstrous" murders of three women in Bradford.

The judge at Leeds Crown Court told 40-year-old Stephen Griffiths he would spend the rest of his life in prison.

Griffiths, from Bradford, had earlier admitted murdering Suzanne Blamires, 36, Shelley Armitage, 31, and 43-year-old Susan Rushworth.

After his arrest, he told West Yorkshire Police: "I've killed loads."

Griffiths, of Thornton Road, was arrested on 24 May by West Yorkshire Police after CCTV footage of him attacking Ms Blamires at his block of flats was discovered by a caretaker at the complex.

Robert Smith QC, prosecuting, said the caretaker had the job of reviewing footage taken from CCTV cameras.

Image caption,
Griffiths admitted murdering Shelley Armitage, Susan Rushworth and Suzanne Blamires

On 24 May he saw footage which showed Ms Blamires running out of Griffiths' flat followed by the defendant.

The court heard Ms Blamires was later seen being dragged on the floor by her leg by Griffiths, who was seen to have something in his hand.

The woman was shot with a crossbow, the court heard, before Griffiths "gestured" by holding a finger up to the CCTV camera.

Mr Smith added that Griffiths had told the officers arresting him: "I'm Osama bin Laden."

Once in a police station he told officers: "I've killed a lot more than Suzanne Blamires - I've killed loads.

'Disturbing' recordings

"Peter Sutcliffe [the Yorkshire Ripper] came a cropper in Sheffield.

"So did I but at least I got out of the city."

Mr Smith said Griffiths told police Ms Blamires - who he knew as "Amber" - was "gone".

He said the student told officers he had "eaten some of her", adding "that's part of the magic".

The court was also told Griffiths possessed "disturbing video recordings and images", and there was evidence that Ms Armitage and Ms Rushworth had bled in his flat.

Judge Mr Justice Openshaw told the court: "The circumstances of these murders are so wicked and monstrous they leave me in no doubt the defendant should be kept in prison for the rest of his life."

Mr Justice Openshaw added that Griffiths' pleas had been entered "without any remorse at all".

The families of the three women gave their reaction after the Bradford University PhD student, who was researching murders in Bradford in the 19th Century as part of his thesis, was convicted.

Suzanne Blamires' mother, Nicky Blamires, said: "I wake up and think about my bright, articulate and much-loved daughter every day and I am serving a life sentence as a result of what this man has done."

Gill Armitage, Shelley Armitage's mother, said: "Her death will haunt us for the rest of our lives."

And Susan Rushworth's mother, Christine Thompson, appealed to Griffiths to tell their family what he had done with her "loving" daughter.

Image caption,
A crossbow was recovered from Stephen Griffiths' Holmfield Court flat

"Our lives will never be the same without her," she said.

Det Supt Sukhbir Singh, of West Yorkshire Police, described Griffiths as "heartless and controlling".

"I am extremely pleased that Griffiths has been convicted of what can only be described as a series of horrifying crimes," he added.

He said they had "no evidence at this stage" to link Griffiths to any other crimes, but they would be in contact with forces across the country to "see if anything develops".

Peter Mann, Head of Complex Casework Unit at the Crown Prosecution Service in West Yorkshire, added: "Few people in Bradford are likely to forget the horrific events which led to Griffiths being arrested and charged with these murders."

A major search and recovery operation began after Ms Blamires' remains were recovered on 25 May from the River Aire.

Police had also been investigating the disappearance of Shelley Armitage and Susan Rushworth and on 27 May Griffiths was charged with all the murders of all three women, who had worked as prostitutes in Bradford.

Griffiths admitted murdering Ms Blamires between 20 May and 25 May; murdering Ms Rushworth between 22 June, 2009, and 25 May this year, and murdering Ms Armitage between 25 April and 25 May this year.

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