Brown Clee Hill: Moses Christensen guilty of walker murder

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image copyrightFamily handout
image captionRichard Hall was from Perton in south Staffordshire

A man who "roamed around" a beauty spot looking for someone to kill has been found guilty of a walker's murder.

Richard Hall, 70, suffered numerous injuries when he was attacked by Moses Christensen on Brown Clee Hill in Shropshire last August.

Christensen, 22, denied murder by reason of diminished responsibility, arguing he "lost touch with reality".

However, jurors at Stafford Crown Court found him guilty after three hours of deliberation.

The trial heard how Mr Hall, from Perton in south Staffordshire, had gone out walking alone on the morning of 13 August. He told his wife he was going for a walk and would be back in time for something to eat.

Meanwhile, Christensen, of Corser Street in Stourbridge, was being sought by police after allegedly telling a relative he wanted to kill three of his former teachers and had "a desire to... eat the flesh of one of them".

image copyrightWest Mercia Police
image captionMoses Christensen denied murder by reason of diminished responsibility

Mr Hall suffered 26 injuries when Christensen attacked him with a combat-style knife. He had wounds to his neck and chest, as well as one which penetrated his skull.

Christensen, who has a history of depression dating back to his early teens, was arrested after knocking on the door of a house and telling the woman inside he had committed a crime.

After informing police that he had "cut himself whilst committing a murder", Christensen went on to describe in interviews his intention had been to "go out and kill or be killed" - and foggy conditions on the hill provided a "good opportunity".

'Family left shattered'

However, his defence had argued the 22-year-old was irrational, with a growing detachment from reality, saying there was no explanation for the crime other than his mental disorder.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Dinesh Maganty told the trial he believed the "significantly impaired" psychotic condition of Christensen was the only explanation for the killing.

image captionMr Hall's body was found on Brown Clee Hill in Shropshire in August 2020

But another expert witness, forensic psychiatrist Dr Suraj Shenoy, said the defendant had no clear symptoms of psychosis and was not "acting randomly or in a frenzy" on the day of the killing.

Jurors had to decide if the killing was murder or manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, and returned a unanimous murder verdict within three hours.

Mr Justice Pepperall delayed sentencing until 16 March to allow for further psychiatric evidence to be presented, but told Christensen: "There is only one sentence that can be passed and that is a sentence of life imprisonment."

Mr Hall's family said in a statement: "Richard was a brilliant man in every way, 70 years young, an amazing husband, father and granddad.

"We as a family have been left shattered by these events and will never fully comprehend what has tragically taken place."

They said he was a "truly wonderful man" who was "loved, admired and respected by so many people".

Det Insp Mark Bellamy, from West Mercia Police, added: "Moses Christensen's violent and horrific actions have left a family without a husband, father and granddad, a man who was respected by many and our thoughts remain with them at this very difficult time."

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