A Nottingham man who murdered his aunt’s partner in a ‘sadistic’ attack that he streamed on social media has been jailed for life.
Declan O’Donnell repeatedly kicked, punched and stamped on 63-year-old Paul Cox during a two-hour rampage at a flat in Nottingham city centre.
Police were called when the 24-year-old uploaded footage onto Facebook and Instagram.
His followers pleaded with him to stop but O’Donnell refused.
His aunt, who was in the property at the time, also begged him to stop but O’Donnell carried on attacking Mr Cox – leaving him with multiple fractures and internal bleeding.
Emergency crews arrived at the flat in Mansfield Road and took Mr Cox to Queen’s Medical Centre, where he died nine days later.
O’Donnell was subsequently charged with murder. He admitted manslaughter but pleaded not guilty to murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
This was not accepted by prosecutors and a trial began at Nottingham Crown Court on 2 May 2023.
Thirteen days later, a jury found O’Donnell guilty of murder after concluding he was in control of his actions at the time of the attack, which happened in the early hours of 10 February 2022.
During the trial, jurors viewed harrowing footage of Mr Cox drifting in and out of consciousness having been repeatedly attacked by O’Donnell between a period of approximately two hours.
The attack left him with a catalogue of injuries including a fractured skull, a broken spine, a broken jaw, wounds to the right side of his head and abdominal bleeding.
When police arrived, O’Donnell was uncooperative and threated officers with a knife before being arrested.
As part of the investigation, detectives examined the footage in which O’Donnell could be heard blaming Mr Cox for his mother’s death, which was related to alcohol abuse.
Today (Friday 19 May 2023), O’Donnell, of Mansfield Road, Nottingham, was back at Nottingham Crown Court and handed a life sentence – of which a minimum of 23 years would be spent behind bars.
Judge James Sampson said that meant O’Donnell would not be eligible for parole for another 21 years and 272 days, taking into account the 15 months he has already served in custody following the murder.
Addressing O’Donnell, the judge accepted he had been suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the killing but that it did not absolve him of the attack, which he described as “brutal” and “grotesque”.
Judge Sampson said: “You punched him so hard that you damaged your own hand. With that punch, you knocked him out and the injury to your hand angered you even more.
“For the next almost two hours, you subjected this defenceless and semi-conscious man to a relentless and humiliating assault.
“Throughout the attack, you filmed yourself and him as he laid bloodied, beaten and distressed on the floor.
“Words do not do justice to the horror of the images the jury had to see.”
The sentence was welcomed by Mr Cox’s family, who said in a joint statement: “We wish to thank the police and the legal team in helping us to achieve justice for Paul.
“We are pleased with the outcome, but as a family we are so saddened at the thought of how many lives this has destroyed.
“Nothing can bring our Paul back, and although it does not make what has happened any easier to deal with, we believe that this was truly the right result.
“For our family, the past 15 months have been the most difficult time of our lives, and now that this is over we can finally focus on grieving for Paul.
“Our thoughts are with everyone that has been impacted by what Declan O’Donnell did that night.”
Detective Inspector Melanie Crutchley, of Nottinghamshire Police, also said she was pleased O’Donnell had been brought to justice.
She said: “This was a truly horrifying attack, almost defying belief in its brutality and utterly senseless nature.
“Not only was Paul beaten unconscious over a prolonged period of time, O’Donnell was lucid enough to live stream the attack on his mobile phone, showing no mercy throughout.
“It was a sadistic attack and by refusing to accept responsibility for his horrendous actions, O’Donnell subjected Paul’s loved ones to further pain by taking the case to trial, where the footage had to be replayed in open court.
“Today’s sentence will not bring Paul back, but it does mean that O’Donnell will spend a considerable part of his life behind bars, and I hope this gives his family some comfort.
“I would also like to thank the jury members for the professionalism they have shown, having had to sit and watch the attack clip by clip. No doubt the barbarity of O’Donnell’s actions will stay with them for the rest of their lives as well.”
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