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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 May 2006, 02:04 GMT 03:04 UK
Rapist jailed for murdering girl
McGrady purchasing hacksaw blades
McGrady was captured on CCTV purchasing hacksaw blades
A convicted rapist who murdered a 15-year-old girl before dumping her mutilated body in bin bags has been jailed for life.

John McGrady, 48, strangled and dismembered Rochelle Holness, who vanished in Catford, south London, in September 2005.

Her family said the sentence was a "just reflection of the heinous crime committed against Rochelle".

McGrady, originally from Belfast, had admitted murdering Rochelle.

A statement read out on behalf of the family outside the Old Bailey said that they hoped "life means life".

Dangerous predator

Referring to McGrady's refusal to co-operate with the authorities, they said: "While he remains cowardly silent, our days are dark, tormented by speculation and contempt for him."

They also attacked media coverage of the case which they said was as "inhumane" as the attack by McGrady.

The whole life sentence handed down by Judge Stephen Kramer was greeted with shouts of "yes" and "rot in hell" by Rochelle's mother Jennifer Bennett.

Judge Kramer said: "I have been driven to the conclusion you must have been motivated by a sexual desire, and when you are drinking you are - and continue to be - a dangerous predator to women, especially young women.

Rochelle Holness
The loss is exacerbated by not knowing how, when or why he murdered her
Richard Whittam, prosecuting

"The sentence will ensure you will never have the opportunity to prey on young women again.

"You cruelly took the life of a young girl and left her mother bereft."

McGrady's barrister, Rock Tansey QC, had told the court his client had shown remorse and should not be jailed for the rest of his life.

He admitted killing Rochelle, whose mutilated body was found in five bin bags at the bottom of a rubbish chute in Milford Towers, south London, where McGrady lived.

Richard Whittam, prosecuting, said her head and limbs had been cut off after she was throttled.

Confessed to girlfriend

There was evidence she had tried to fight him off and had left claw marks down his arm but post-mortem tests were unable to determine whether she had been sexually assaulted.

Mr Whittam said: "The murder and dismemberment of Rochelle has affected the lives of her parents and siblings.

"Her mother's life had been devastated, having been pre-deceased by her 15-year-old daughter in these circumstances.

"She is receiving regular help. The loss is exacerbated by not knowing how, when or why he murdered her."

Rochelle had been missing for three days, after going out to use a phone box, when McGrady slit his wrists and confessed to his then girlfriend who alerted the police.

John McGrady
McGrady had previous convictions for rape and kidnap

When police searched McGrady's flat, they found the bathroom smeared with blood.

Rochelle's father Denroy Holness came across the murder scene as he searched for his daughter with other family members.

The court heard McGrady was jailed for six years in 1988 for rape and sexual assault on two women.

In 1993 he was jailed for five years for kidnapping a young woman at knifepoint.

Det Insp Tim Grattan-Kane said outside court that McGrady had not been brought to police attention since his release in 1997.

"But whatever systems may have been in place, he is so evil I do not think anything could have prevented him doing what he did."

He said that McGrady had never revealed details of what happened, in particular how Rochelle came to be in his flat.

"I have no doubt he used violence or the threat of violence. Rochelle was not a girl who would go willingly with anyone she mistrusted," he said.

Moya Reed, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said they were "completely satisfied with the sentence that had been passed".

"It reflects the horrific killing of an innocent 15-year-old girl and we hope that gives some measure of comfort to her family."

Police fear McGrady may have attacked many more women.


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Watch CCTV footage of McGrady



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