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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 May, 2003, 08:44 GMT 09:44 UK
'Vampire' murder police praised
Murder victim Mabel Leyshon
Mabel Leyshon's murder was "callous and brutal"
Police officers who caught the sadistic teenage killer of Anglesey pensioner Mabel Leyshon have received commendations for their work.

The crime was described by North Wales Police at the time as "the most callous and brutal" they had ever seen.

Matthew Hardman - who was 17 at the time of the attack - was given a minimum 12-year sentence for stabbing the 90-year-old to death and removing her heart in what seemed like a ritualistic murder.

A team of 60 officers worked on the case and the five team leaders were presented with commendations from North Wales Police Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom at a ceremony in Menai Bridge on Friday evening.

We cannot collapse in horror and recoil - it was a psychological challenge
Richard Brunstrom, North Wales Police

Mr Brunstrom says the accolades are given in recognition of their "professionalism and determination" in the face of a most horrible crime.

He said: "In difficult circumstances, the officers were presented with psychological and emotional challenges and managed to catch and convict the offender.

'Appalling scene'

"It was a particularly difficult investigation because of the awful circumstances.

"It was an unpleasant case which the officers had to get very close to - in terms of dealing with the relatives and the appalling scene itself.

"We are human beings just like anybody else but have to retain a sense of professional detachment.

"We cannot collapse in horror and recoil - it was a psychological challenge."

Convicted killer, Matthew Hardman
Matthew Hardman was fascinated with immortality

He added: "A commendation like this is not common and is a prize to be cherished. If you get it, you have earned it."

The Coleg Menai art student convicted of the brutal murder lived yards away from his victim and had been her paper boy.

It emerged in his court case at Mold Crown Court in July 2002 that he had a fascination with vampires and immortality.

The high-profile case - featured on BBC Crimewatch - shocked many villagers in Llanfairpwll where Mrs Leyshon lived alone.

Her corpse was found on 25 November, 2001, when a meals-on-wheels volunteer visited her home at Lon Pant.

Vampire

Further details of the unusual incident were pieced together in December.

Hardman broke in through a window and repeatedly stabbed the widow, said to be confident and independent, who was watching television in her favourite chair.

He then moved her body to another chair, placed two pokers in a cross formation at her feet, removed her heart and placed it in a saucepan, wrapped in newspaper.

Mold Crown Court also heard he drained blood from Mrs Leyshon's leg into the saucepan, from which he then drank.

The 14-day trial heard Hardman was fascinated by vampires and wanted to become one of the creatures in a quest for immortality.

He was found guilty after the jury was told DNA found at the murder scene matched blood found on a knife at Hardman's home.

Matthew Hardman has always denied harming Mrs Leyshon but lost his right to appeal in January.


SEE ALSO:
From 'quiet lad' to killer
02 Aug 02  |  Wales
Police sure of killer's guilt
02 Aug 02  |  Wales
Macabre death of elderly widow
02 Aug 02  |  Wales


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