Judge says heartbroken family will 'never recover' from Liam Pennick's death

This post first appeared on Derby Telegraph. Read the original article.

A top judge who handed a life sentence to killer James Eames says the victim’s heartbroken family will never recover from the trauma they have suffered.

Eames was jailed for life with a minimum term of six years for attacking Liam Pennick on the landing of their home in Allen Street, Allenton, on March 2.

The 42-year-old pleaded guilty to manslaughter under diminished responsibility last month and was sentenced on Wednesday at Nottingham Crown Court.

After the multiple stabbings to Mr Pennick’s neck took place and, when police arrived at the front door, Eames answered it and said: “He’s upstairs, he’s dead, I killed him and he deserved it.”

James Eames has been sentenced to life in prison.

James Eames has been sentenced to life in prison.

The court heard how Eames had received surgery to remove a brain tumour as a nine-year-old which caused “a real change in him leading to him becoming aggressive”.

Prosecutor Michael Auty said Eames had been previously diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and also had a history of taking class A drugs.

Alwyn Jones QC, for Eames, said his client had been seen and assessed by two separate consultant psychiatrists, who had both concluded that the disorders he suffered from significantly led to his brutal actions in killing Mr Pennick.

But after careful consideration, Judge Gregory Dickinson ruled Eames had moderate responsibility for his actions and knew what he did was wrong.

He said: “The defendant killed Liam Pennick on March 2. This was a very violent and sustained attack using severe force and was plainly done with the intention to kill. Sadly, the defendant represents a significant risk of serious harm to the public. He is dangerous and will remain so for the foreseeable future.”

Eames, who appeared to be nervous before his sentence was announced, will be transferred to hospital within 28 days so he can properly be treated. It is unknown how long he will be at the hospital

Liam Pennick was found with fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Liam Pennick was found with fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Judge Dickinson said he had every sympathy for Mr Pennick’s family and made reference to the loss of his sister, Zoe, who was strangled 12 years ago.

He added: “His [Liam Pennick’s] family had already suffered the anguish of the death of daughter Zoe, who was murdered in 2004. For his family, Liam’s death has been a shattering blow from which they will never recover.”

On Tuesday – the first day of the sentence hearing – Mr Pennick’s heartbroken mum June Hunt gave an emotional account of how much the family miss him.

Mrs Hunt fought back the tears as she spoke to the judge about the impact the horrific events of Thursday, March 2 had on the family. She said: “How do I tell Liam’s 10-year-old daughter that her father was horrifically murdered?

“She goes to ballet and Liam always came to her dance shows. He was so proud of his little girl.”

Mrs Hunt said Mr Pennick’s daughter performed at a show at Derby’s Guildhall Theatre following her father’s death.

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She added: “She looked for him in the audience, she had suddenly forgotten he was not there. Her heart sank and so did mine.

“Liam will not be able to see her grow up. He won’t see her in a prom dress or get to check out her boyfriends. He won’t be able to walk her down the aisle.”

Derbyshire police welcomed Judge Dickinson’s conclusion and said it reflected the brutality of the attack.

Speaking outside court, Detective Chief Inspector Emlyn Richards said: “This sentence reflects the severity and brutality of the crime that James Eames committed against his housemate Liam Pennick on March 2 this year in the Allenton area of Derby.

“We know Mr Pennick was subject to three stab wounds to the neck and further lacerations to his face along with stamping and assault injuries to his head and neck. This was a result of a mental health episode Mr Eames suffered which caused him to attack his housemate who he had been living with for five days.

“This incident has left parents without a son, siblings without a brother and it has left children without a father. The entire family are devastated and trying to come to terms with it.”