TEENAGER Lewis Daynes was sentenced to life imprisonment today for the murder of Breck Bednar, 14, in a case described by CPS East of England Chief Crown Prosecutor Jenny Hopkins as “shocking”, given the young ages of those involved.
Ms Hopkins said: “Our case was that Lewis Daynes, even though he was only 18 when he committed Breck’s murder, was a controlling and manipulative individual who carefully planned this crime.
“He groomed Breck online using their shared interest in computer games and over a period of months he manipulated Breck, turning him against his family.
“A month before the tragic event of Breck’s death, Daynes was clearly organising and planning, buying duct tape and other items online. He gave Breck a mobile phone and also sent instructions by text on the lies Breck should tell his family so he would be able to visit Daynes’ home in Grays, Essex.
“We have seen cases where young people have been groomed online but it is rare for it to culminate in such a dreadful and violent murder.
“The degree of planning and manipulation by Daynes is shocking and when you consider the young ages of perpetrator and victim, it stands out as one of the most cruel, violent and unusual cases we have dealt with.”
Daynes had originally pleaded not guilty to the murder of Breck Bednar on 17 February 2014 but changed his plea to guilty at the start of his trial on 25 November 2014.
At the sentencing hearing in Chelmsford Crown Court on 12 January 2015, prosecuting counsel Richard Whittam, QC, told the court that the Crown’s case was that this was a sexually or sadistically motivated murder. This was disputed by the defence and after hearing from expert witnesses, judge Mrs Justice Cox ruled that she accepted the Crown’s argument.
Taking this into account, the judge sentenced Daynes to life imprisonment with a minimum tariff of 25 years.
Ms Hopkins said: “I hope the life sentence passed today sends out a clear message that the CPS will prosecute robustly those who prey on young victims online. I also hope that the sentence brings some small comfort to the family and friends of Breck who have suffered a terrible loss in truly appalling circumstances. Our thoughts are with them.”