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Friday, November 19, 1999 Published at 15:15 GMT


Double killer gets life

Sharon's body was discovered stuffed in a cupboard at her home

A man who murdered his girlfriend in a frenzied attack with a pair of scissors and then shook and battered her two-year-old daughter to death has been given two life sentences.

The BBC's Sarah Brindle: "The murders shocked the Kensington community"
Thomas John Park probably stabbed young mother Sharon Lester after she discovered he had sexually abused her daughter Jade, the jury at Liverpool Crown Court was told.

[ image: Two-year-old Jade: Dumped in a bin-liner]
Two-year-old Jade: Dumped in a bin-liner
Park then wrapped the body of Jade, who was wearing just a pyjama top, in a bin bag he found in the kitchen and dumped it on waste ground, where it lay for a week.

Mr Justice Owen jailed 25-year-old Park for life for each murder, and sentenced him to three years, to run concurrently, for having indecently assaulted Jade.

He also said Park would go on the sex offenders' register indefinitely.

100 stab wounds

During the six-day trial the jury had heard that Park inflicted more than 100 stab wounds on 22-year-old Miss Lester, his girlfriend of just a few weeks.

Jade died after being shaken and battered around the head.

Mr Tim Holroyd QC, prosecuting, had told Park: "You indecently assaulted Jade didn't you? Sharon either caught you at it or heard about it. Sharon did not provoke you - she found you out.

"You did not kill her because you lost your self-control, you did it to finish her off and silence her. And whether you thought Jade could identify you, you killed her as well."

Stephen Riordan QC, defending, told the court that there was nothing he could say in mitigation.

But, he pointed out to the judge, Park was only 25, and had no previous convictions.

Park, an unemployed joiner of Jubilee Drive, Kensington, Liverpool, had denied murdering Miss Lester and Jade in December last year, and denied indecently assaulting Jade.

But he had admitted the manslaughter of Miss Lester on the grounds of provocation.

The jury of four men and eight women took just one hour to find Park guilty of all the charges.

'Justice' for family

Park, standing in the dock with his head bowed, showed no emotion as the verdicts were delivered.

Three women jurors sobbed as the verdicts were delivered, and members of Miss Lester's family shouted at Park from the public gallery.

Miss Lester's younger brother, Robert, said after the hearing: "I feel justice has been done. The family will never get over this, especially my mother, Dorothy. We will all live with this for the rest of our lives.

"It came out in court the type of person he is and we hope he rots in jail."

Detective Superintendent Russ Walsh said: "For any family to lose one member is terrible, to lose two generations in one fell swoop is horrendous.

"There was no need whatsoever for Jade to die. She posed no threat to anyone. The family have acted with dignity throughout and I would like to thank the investigating team for an excellent job."

Horrific discovery

The jury had heard how Park told a number of differing stories about how the pair died in the early hours of Sunday 13 December in Ling Street, Kensington, Liverpool.

Sharon's mother, Dorothy, called at the house a week after the killings, letting herself in.

She found the house in a state, and called on neighbour Suzanne Moran, who discovered Miss Lester's body in a cupboard beneath the stairs. Jade was nowhere to be seen.

Police launched an immediate search for Jade and for Park, who was found drunk a pub late that night.

Park told detectives he had not seen Miss Lester or her daughter since the previous Saturday, a position he maintained through several interviews.

He told officers he "would not dream" of hurting Jade and would help them find her.

But the next day he agreed to lead detectives to the youngster's body.

A post mortem examination showed that Jade died from several brutal punches or kicks to the head in a "sustained and deliberate attack", and had been sexually abused.

The jury had heard that Park repeatedly returned to the house in the week after the murders and took a number of things - including a ring he took from Miss Lester's body - which he then sold.

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