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20th May 2023

Man live-streamed murder of his aunt’s partner in ‘grotesque’ two-hour attack

Steve Hopkins

‘Words do not do justice to the horror of the images the jury had to see’

A man who battered to death his aunt’s partner in a “sadistic” attack live-streamed on social media has been jailed for life.

Declan O’Donnell repeatedly kicked, punched and stamped on 63-year-old Paul Cox during a two-hour rampage at a flat in Nottingham city centre on February 10 last year.

Police were called when he uploaded harrowing footage of the attack onto Facebook and Instagram.

A court heard the 24-year-old’s followers pleaded with him to stop with one web user writing: “Stop, you are killing him.”

Cox was left with multiple fractures and internal bleeding despite his aunt, who was in the property at the time, also begging him to stop.

Emergency crews arrived at the flat in Mansfield Road and took Cox to Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre, where he died nine days later.

O’Donnell, of Nottingham, admitted manslaughter but pleaded not guilty to murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

He was found guilty of murder following a 13-day trial at Nottingham Crown Court and on Friday was jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 23 years.

Judge James Sampson accepted he had been suffering from a mental disorder but it did not absolve him of the attack, which he described as “brutal” and “grotesque”.

Sampson said O’Donnell had punched Cox “so hard” he damaged his own hand, which “angered” him even more.

The punch knocked Cox out, but the attack was only just getting started, the court heard.

“For the next almost two hours, you subjected this defenceless and semi-conscious man to a relentless and humiliating assault,” Sampson said.

“Throughout the attack, you filmed yourself and him as he laid bloodied, beaten and distressed on the floor.

“Words do not do justice to the horror of the images the jury had to see.”

During the trial, jurors viewed disturbing footage of Cox drifting in and out of consciousness having been repeatedly attacked by O’Donnell.

The attack left him with a catalogue of injuries including a fractured skull, a broken spine, a broken jaw, wounds to the right side of his head and abdominal bleeding.

When police arrived, O’Donnell was uncooperative and threatened officers with a knife before being arrested.

Detectives examined the footage in which O’Donnell could be heard blaming Cox for his mother’s death, which was related to alcohol abuse.

Cox’s family said in a joint statement afterwards that they were “pleased with the outcome, but as a family we are so saddened at the thought of how many lives this has destroyed”.

The statement continued: “Nothing can bring our Paul back, and although it does not make what has happened any easier to deal with, we believe that this was truly the right result.

“For our family, the past 15 months have been the most difficult time of our lives, and now that this is over we can finally focus on grieving for Paul.

“Our thoughts are with everyone that has been impacted by what Declan O’Donnell did that night.”

Detective Inspector Melanie Crutchley, of Nottinghamshire Police, said the incident was “truly horrifying” and “almost defying belief in its brutality and utterly senseless nature”.

He continued: “Not only was Paul beaten unconscious over a prolonged period of time, O’Donnell was lucid enough to live stream the attack on his mobile phone, showing no mercy throughout.

“It was a sadistic attack and by refusing to accept responsibility for his horrendous actions, O’Donnell subjected Paul’s loved ones to further pain by taking the case to trial, where the footage had to be replayed in open court.”

Crutchley thanked the jury for their professionalism in sitting through the case, saying, “No doubt the barbarity of O’Donnell’s actions will stay with them for the rest of their lives as well.”

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