July 2022

Grandfather killer jailed in first TV sentencing in England and Wales

A “very damaged man” has been jailed for killing his bedbound grandfather in a knife attack, in the first filmed sentencing in England and Wales.

Ben Oliver, 25, stabbed his 74-year-old grandfather to death in Mottingham, south east London, in January 2021.

He admitted manslaughter due to diminished responsibility. He was cleared of murder at the Old Bailey.

Judge Sarah Munro QC made legal history as she handed him a life sentence with a minimum of 10 years and eight months.

The arrival of TV cameras at the Old Bailey and other crown courts comes nine years after the move was first promised.

The major change in the law, announced on Wednesday, allows broadcasters to film judges sentencing serious criminals. Broadcasting an entire trial will not be permitted.

During sentencing, Oliver, of Bexleyheath, south London, was denied a hospital order because he “presents a significant risk to the public”, the court heard.

He attacked his bedbound grandfather, David Oliver, as he lay “helpless” in his bedroom following a stroke, jurors heard during the trial.

David Oliver was found with 21 stab wounds to the face and seven stab wounds to the torso.

Louis Mably QC, for the prosecution, said: “It was a brutal attack, plainly carried out with the intention of killing him.”

The defendant had become “very angry” after learning of allegations against his grandfather of historic sexual abuse of girls, Mr Mably said.

Jurors were told the grandson had autism which, combined with other emotional and mental factors, diminished his responsibility for the killing.

Due to his condition, he “did not think there was an alternative to killing his grandfather”, Judge Munro said.

In 2016, Ben Oliver was convicted of sexual offences against a young girl when he was aged 15, the court was told.

Ms Munro said this was “learned behaviour from your own childhood”.

His step-dad was “extremely cruel” and physically violent towards him, the court heard.

The man, named only as Steve in court, subjected Ben Oliver “to a sexualised environment”, and introduced him to child pornography at the age of five.

Psychologists appointed by the court described Oliver as “a very damaged man who will require psychological work in the longer term”, Judge Munro said.

In the months before the killing, he had become aware of allegations of sexual abuse against his grandfather, who was also said to have mistreated his wife and had affairs, jurors were told.

His grandmother told him she could not have peace until her husband had died.

The defendant was also depressed and had attempted suicide several times, jurors heard.

Mr Mably said: “He was a troubled and angry young man.”