Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 16:51 UK

Burglar, 16, murdered neighbour

Christopher O'Hara
Christopher O'Hara was jailed for a minimum of 17 years

A 16-year-old boy has been jailed for life for murdering his neighbour during a suspected burglary in Lancashire.

Christopher O'Hara bludgeoned George Thornley, 68, to death at the man's home in Clifton on 2 December 2008.

He admitted manslaughter at Preston Crown Court but his plea was rejected and he was convicted of murder.

Mr Thornley had been battered with a mallet and his throat cut. O'Hara, also of Meadow Close, was told he must serve a minimum of 17 years before parole.

Friends of Mr Thornley found him lying in his kitchen in a pool of blood after growing worried when he did not turn up for a fishing competition.

George Thornley
George Thornley's blood was found on the defendant's trainer

He had been attacked with a rubber mallet and a knife and died at Royal Preston hospital almost three weeks later.

O'Hara was arrested two days after the attack. A set of spare keys to Mr Thornley's car was found hidden under his bedroom floorboards.

His victim's blood was found on his training shoes and a footprint on a receipt in Mr Thornley's kitchen also matched the sole of his trainers.

Det Ch Insp Tim Leeson, of Lancashire Police, said: "I am pleased with today's sentence and hope it will bring some comfort and closure to George's family, although the trauma of what happened that day will remain with them for life.

"It was O'Hara's intention to cause Mr Thornley serious harm and I am satisfied the sentence given by the judge reflects this."

Mr Thornley was a keen fisherman whose friends have created a memorial trophy in his honour.



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