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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2006, 16:27 GMT
Judges rule against axe murderer
John Latus
Latus was jailed for life for killing his friend
A killer who battered and beheaded his friend has lost his appeal against his conviction for murder.

Lawyers for John Latus, 36, of Wroxeter, Shropshire, argued the charge should have been manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

But judges at the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal although they have not yet given their reasons.

Latus was found guilty of murder at Chester Crown Court in 2003. He left his victim's body in a Birmingham park.

A passer-by found the head and partially-clothed body of Julian Sanders, a 21-year-old trainee welder, as he was walking his dog.

Anthony Barker QC, for Latus, told the appeal judges there was fresh psychiatric evidence to show Latus was at the time "mentally ill".

'Mentally ill'

A year after Mr Sanders' death, in May 2001, he killed friend and landlord Colin Foulkes, 49, with an axe.

He then drove to North Wales and attacked his mother with an axe. She suffered serious injuries but survived. The axe head fell off after the second blow.

In 2002, he admitted Mr Foulkes' manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and was convicted of the attempted murder of his mother.

The jury failed to reach a verdict over the death of Mr Sanders.

In October 2003, he was convicted of Mr Sanders' murder and given life sentences for the offences relating to Mr Foulkes and his mother.

A date for the appeal judges written judgment has not yet been fixed.

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