A TEENAGER who arranged the barbaric murder of a friend in a secluded park – because she was annoying him – had his conviction and sentence backed by top judges.
Anthony William Wood (21), of Elizabeth Street, Burnley, was jailed for life at Preston Crown Court in January last year after he was convicted of murdering 18-year-old Louise Evans, a vulnerable teenager who suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome.
His accomplice, Matthew David Peter Maw, now 20, also of Elizabeth Street, also received a life term after admitting Louise’s murder.
Maw killed Louise with a knife and a tree branch after he and Wood lured her to Towneley Park in July 2009.
Lord Justice Pitchford, sitting in London’s Appeal Court with Mr Justice Treacy and Judge William Davis QC, said Wood instigated the plan to kill Louise after complaining to friends she was “doing his head in”.
Wood and Louise had been close friends, said the judge, with both accommodated at the Elizabeth Street Hostel – where Louise had gone because she wanted to be independent.
But on the night of her murder they had quarrelled and Wood had become increasingly irritated by his former friend. He recruited Maw to help him with the murder, with the pair ambushing the terrified teenager in woodland around midnight.
Louise was reluctant to enter the park because she was afraid of the dark, and was becoming increasingly fearful in the minutes before the attack.
Maw cut her throat with a kitchen knife provided by Wood, said Lord Justice Pitchford, causing three other teenagers to scatter into the dark in their terror.
Maw repeatedly slashed Louise with the knife and, when the blade splintered, he battered her to death with a branch from a nearby tree.
Her friends heard her screams as they ran from the scene – plus Maw “grunting” as he beat her to death. One witness said her screams were “like nothing I’ve ever heard before”.
Wood challenged his murder conviction with claims the trial judge gave the jury flawed directions on how to approach key areas of evidence.
But, rejecting the appeal, Lord Justice Pitchford said he was “not satisfied the judge’s approach can reasonably be faulted. This verdict was safe and the appeal must be dismissed,” he concluded.
Wood and Maw also challenged the minimum jail terms they must serve before they can apply for parole. Wood was put behind bars for at least 23 years and Maw was handed a minimum term of 18 years and 35 weeks.
Lord Justice Pitchford refused to reduce Wood’s term in light of his key role in instigating the offence. However, he cut Maw’s term to 16 years and eight months to reflect his guilty plea, youth and immaturity.