Pool murderer jailed for 13 years

First published in Cornwall

A man who murdered a fellow resident at sheltered housing for homeless men in Pool has been given a mandatory life sentence.

Somes McFarland, 28, must remain in prison for 13 years before the Parole Board can consider when it will be safe to release him into society.

He was previously convicted of killing 51-year-old Peter Oates during the early hours of March 25 last year at Henley House, a charitable trust home for homeless men with significant problems.

The jury, who heard that McFarland suffers from Aspergers Syndrome, rejected a defence submission that at the time of the offence he was suffering from diminished responsibility.

His counsel, Simon Laws QC, told the judge that McFarland had been reluctant to deny the charge of murder.

“He expressed the view that he should be convicted of what he had done and would not be happy with a verdict of manslaughter by diminished responsibility,” he said. “But he accepted the advice of his lawyers and the report by a consultant forensic psychiatrist.”

Mr Justice Burnett said that McFarland had been drinking at a family party before visiting Mr Oates’ room, where they were drinking, watching television and playing music.

In the early hours he attacked his friend, grabbing him forcefully around the neck and jumping up and down on his chest and inflicting brain damage.

The judge said he was satisfied that McFarland had not intended to kill Mr Oates but that his intention was to cause him really serious harm. The killing was not premeditated, his autism was a feature in his life and he was of previous good character.

The judge read from a statement by Mr Oates’ brother which spoke of the impact on his family, particularly his elderly mother, and said they regretted McFarland’s apparent lack of remorse for what he had done. There was no recrimination but concern for the impact on his own family.

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