A TEENAGER who lured a ‘gentle, kind-hearted’ sales assistant to a remote beauty spot on a date and stabbed him to death has been locked up for a minimum of 24 years.
Alex Davies, 18, was murdered in Parbold, Lancashire, by Brian Healless, also 18, after they agreed a rendezvous through the dating app Grindr.
Healless, from Chorley, tried to set up similar outdoor meetings with four other males on Grindr in the days after the killing, Preston crown court heard.
He had told openly gay Mr Davies, from Skelmersdale, he was ‘not out yet’ and suggested a ‘discreet spot’ halfway between their two homes for their first meeting.
The defendant stabbed him 128 times at the top of Parbold Hill, dragged the Home Bargains worker face down by his collar in the mud, while still alive, and covered his body with branches and leaves.
Healless was then captured on CCTV on the afternoon of April 29 last year calmly riding away from the scene on his mountain bike with his victim’s rucksack on his back.
Sentencing today, Judge Mark Brown, the honorary recorder of Preston, told him: ‘Alex was a kind-hearted, gentle and hard-working young man who would never have harmed anyone.
‘You lulled him to his death and executed the killing in a savage way. You were undoubtedly setting him up to kill and you are a manipulative, calculating and devious person.
‘It is extremely fortuitous that you were arrested before anyone else suffered the same fate.’
Psychiatrists who examined Healless, who came to England from his native Lithuania at the age of seven, agreed he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the killing.
But jurors rejected his defence that his responsibility for the killing was diminished by his mental state and unanimously convicted him yesterday of murder.
Judge Brown told Healless: ‘I am satisfied that such was the planning, premeditation and the nature of the killing that your culpability is not reduced significantly.’
On May 1, the body of Mr Davies was discovered by a gamekeeper who reported seeing an arm under a pile of broken conifers.
A post-mortem examination showed he died from multiple stab wounds and asphyxiation. He had also been beaten around the head and face.
Healless was arrested on May 3 and a search of his family home in Rylands Road uncovered the victim’s headphones, spare phone and wallet with the defendant’s bank card inside — which the judge said were intended as trophies.
It emerged Healless had searched online for how to wipe data from a phone before meeting up with his victim and he went on to perform factory resets of two phones he stole from Mr Davies.
Healless similarly researched how to reset the phone of a subsequent Grindr contact, but called off that rendezvous after his mountain bike broke.
Searches on eBay were also made by Healless for an army military folding spade, a shovel and a pickaxe.
Healless told doctors that ‘a voice in his head’ said he was going to be harmed on Parbold Hill and that he attacked Mr Davies in fear of his own life.
The defendant explained he had taken a knife to the scene for his own protection and then tried to contact other young men because he ‘just wanted to meet somebody’.
He said he was sexually interested in men and women but had never had a relationship.
Stephen Meadowcroft QC, defending, said: ‘His parents are both in court and have been throughout the trial. They have told me they are desperately shocked at what has happened and had no idea he was going through any problem period.
‘His brothers did not realise either and it all came as a complete shock.’
Healless will not be released from custody until the Parole Board decide on ‘good evidence’ that he is completely safe, said Judge Brown.