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Michael HAMER





Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (14) - The victim rejected his sexual advance
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: March 1, 2006
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1991
Victim profile: Joe Geeling (male, 11)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Bury, Great Manchester, England, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to life in prison (minimum 12 years) on October 15, 2006

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Teenager admits schoolboy murder

BBC News

Monday, 16 October 2006

A 15-year-old boy has been given a life sentence for murdering a boy, whose body was dumped in a park.

Joe Geeling, 11, was beaten, repeatedly stabbed and dumped in a park in Bury, Greater Manchester, on 1 March 2006.

Michael Hamer, who was 14 at the time of the attack, pleaded guilty to murder at the start of his trial at Manchester Crown Court.

Hamer was told that he would serve a minimum of 12 years before being eligible for parole.

On 1 March a massive search was launched for Joe, a cystic fibrosis sufferer, after he failed to return home from school.

His body was found hidden under debris in a gulley in Whitehead Park the next day.

Mr Justice McCombe said Joe had done absolutely nothing to encourage Hamer's sexual advance, the rejection of which triggered the attack.

Imposing a minimum tariff of 12 years, the judge said doctors had found that Hamer was suffering from an "adjustment disorder" at the time of the murder.

He also said the killing itself was not thought of in advance but triggered by Joe's rejection of the defendant's sexual advance.

Earlier Alistair Webster QC outlined the prosecution's case against Michael Hamer.

He told the court Joe was reported missing by his mother at 1724 GMT.

'Lured to house'

Mr Webster said Hamer had written Joe a letter - purportedly from the deputy head at his school - to lure him to his house.

The court was told a second letter found at Hamer's home showed a clear sexual interest in Joe by Hamer. A total of four drafts of the letter were found by police.

Hamer claimed Joe came to his house to charge his mobile phone, but this explanation did not "stand up to examination", Mr Webster said.

Joe was beaten repeatedly with a frying pan, which left him with multiple bruises to the head and a fractured eye socket, the court heard.

Hamer told police he had got the frying pan because Joe had been looking at a photograph of his dead step-brother, which he refused to put down.

But Mr Webster said Hamer's account "lacked credibility" because no photo was found.

Hamer then went and took two knives from the kitchen and stabbed Joe 16 times, puncturing his windpipe in two places and cutting a major artery.

Mr Webster told the court Joe was the victim of a "sustained and savage attack".

Although there was no evidence to indicate a sexual assault the evidence did not exclude one, he said.

After the attack, Hamer dragged Joe's body downstairs, put it in a wheelie bin and took the bin to Whitehead Park, where he hid it.

'A wind-up'

When he returned to the house he began cleaning Joe's blood and told his mother the stains on the carpet were caused by a leaking red pen.

Later, he admitted his responsibility for the death but told police he had set up the meeting with Joe as "a wind-up" - so Joe would go to meet him but no-one would be there.

But David Steer QC, mitigating for the defendant, said Hamer killed Joe after an "adolescent sexual approach" was rejected.

Mr Steer described Hamer as "maladapted" - an isolated and psychologically flawed teenager.

Hamer felt rejected and isolated, which was exacerbated because he never knew his older half-brother, Mark, who died from cancer and did not have much contact with his father. He had also been bullied at school.

"This previous background to the commission of the offence leads both psychologists to conclude he was a young man suffering from a abnormality of mind in the form of an adjustment disorder," Mr Steer added.

Hamer told psychologists he lured Joe to his home to scare him and make the victim feel what it was like to be "isolated and scared" as he was when he was bullied.

But Mr Steer told the court: "We submit he simply did not feel able to admit that his motive was a sexual one. He found it easier to give these other accounts."

He said Hamer had only admitted the real reason for the murder in the last few days.

"He made a sexual advance towards Joe who responded to him as 'gay' and threatened to tell others about what he had tried to do," Mr Steer told the court.

"He then tragically responded in the way he did."

Mr Steer said: "I've been asked specifically by him and his mother to express their sorrow and deep regret for what happened in this case."

Eddie Robinson, headteacher of St Gabriel's Roman Catholic School in Bury, where Joe and his killer were pupils, said the school did all it could to ensure the care and safety of all its pupils.

"I'm confident that our policies and procedures are robust and any incidents of bullying are resolved quickly and effectively.

He added: "The outcome of today's proceedings should allow the school to begin to begin to work towards closure, and attempt to get back to some degree of normality."


Profile of a schoolboy killer

by Mark McGregor - BBC News, Manchester

Monday, 16 October 2006

From the outside, there was nothing to suggest Michael Hamer was capable of a brutal killing.

Academically, the 14-year-old was at the lower end of average, he was something of a loner and mostly associated with younger pupils.

Hamer had endured being picked on by his peers, bullied for his dinner money and sometimes attacked.

And it was this victimisation he used at first to justify his frenzied attack on Joe Geeling, claiming he "just flipped".

"He said in interview that anyone could have been his victim, but my view is that he's selected Joe," said Det Supt Martin Bottomley.

"He has singled him out because of his illness, because he was young, because he was small and weak and not as heavy as him."

Rejected by boys his own age, Hamer retreated into his own world, developing a fascination with younger pupils.

He would go home after school, and, sitting in his bedroom in the evening, he developed a way of controlling others by retreating into a fantasy world.

Mr Bottomley, who led the investigation into Joe Geeling's death, said Hamer often spent hours playing computer games.

"There is nothing sinister in that," he concedes, "But we also know he tended to role play at being a teacher whilst he was at home.

"Again, nothing sinister in that, but just perhaps something a bit too immature for a boy of his age."

Hamer spent his time drawing up school timetables featuring the real names of younger pupils at St Gabriel's High School in Bury, Greater Manchester.

Psychology professor Cary Cooper, of Lancaster University, said any child exhibiting this kind of behaviour would have a very clear reason.

"It's because they want to be in a role which has some kind of control," he said, "Which would indicate to me that they feel they don't have control in their ordinary school life.

"But why that fantasy world should then turn to extreme violence is another matter," he added.

Mr Bottomley said :"In his mind, three weeks before the event, he has selected Joe as a victim. He's selected him as someone he wants to harm."

The most disturbing aspect of Hamer's behaviour, Mr Bottomley said, was his detached demeanour and his composed planning and execution of his plan to lure Joe to his death.

"He acted in a perfectly rational way. He placed Joe into a wheelie bin within minutes of killing him. He walked him through the streets of Bury. He took mobile phone calls from his mum while he was wheeling him through the streets of Bury, acting as if nothing was out of the ordinary.

"He then went back to the house, he then cleaned up. He then did his homework. He then went to school the next day as normal and when questioned about the acts and the sightings during the course of the morning just shrugged and lied his way through them."

Traumatised by the incident, Hamer's mother has moved away from the house in which Joe was murdered and now faces the prospect of her son spending a long time in custody.

Mr Bottomley added: "How does she cope? She's lost a son as well."


Michael Hamer, latest addition to grim list of childhood killers

16th October 2006

The name Michael Hamer will now be added to a list of children who have killed other youngsters.

His crime will be placed alongside those of Mary Bell and more recently Jon Venables and Robert Thompson.

The shock felt when a child lures another away to their death never dissipates.

In 1968, Britain's youngest female killer Mary Bell lured three-year-old Brian Howe and four-year-old Martin Brown away from their homes on Tyneside and strangled them.

Before she was caught, Bell, who psychiatrists called "manipulative" and "dangerous", even asked Martin's grieving family if she could see him lying dead in his coffin.

The schoolgirl led police to Brian's body, which she had slashed with razor blades and scissors.

Bell, the daughter of a Glasgow prostitute, was found guilty of double manslaughter in 1968.

Her cold stare and apparent indifference to the proceedings led people to label her "evil" and "a bad seed".

She was released on licence after 12 years in jail, fell pregnant by a married man and raised her child under a different name.

Public uproar at the lifetime court order gagging the media from revealing her new identity intensified when the killer later sold her story for 50,000 to a book publisher.

More recently, the brutal, premeditated murder of two-year-old James Bulger by two 10-year-old boys left Britain reeling and agonising over how society can produce such damaged youngsters.

In November 1993, Venables and Thompson coaxed the toddler from his mother's side in a Merseyside shopping centre, battered him to death with bricks and an iron bar, then left his body on a railway track to be cut in half.

Thompson kicked the boy so hard in the face the imprint of his metal shoelace loops were left on his skin.

After being convicted of murder, the pair spent eight years in youth custody before being released in 2001 with new identities.

During the trial, Justice Michael Morland said they had committed "an act of unparalleled evil".

In 2003, 14-year-old Luke Mitchell murdered his girlfriend, Jodi Jones, also 14.

He slashed her throat about 20 times, tied her hands behind her back, stripped her and left her mutilated body on a disused path in Dalkeith, Midlothian.

Mitchell, from Newbattle, led Jodi's family to her butchered corpse while pretending to help look for her.

He was detained for life in February last year by Judge Lord Nimmo Smith, who said the brutal killing may have been inspired by the work of Gothic rock star Marilyn Manson.

The teenager was ordered to spend a minimum of 20 years behind bars for Jodi's murder.

Brothers Danny and Ricky Preddie were 12 and 13 when they stabbed 10-year-old Damilola Taylor in the leg with a broken beer bottle in November 2000.

Nigerian-born Damilola had been in Britain only a few months when he fell foul of the bullying brothers after walking home from the local library after school.

He bled to death in a stairwell of the run-down North Peckham estate, south London, as local workmen tried to save his life.

The brothers were found guilty of manslaughter in August this year after a re-trial and given an eight-year youth custody sentence.

In August 1990, 11-year-old Richard Keith battered three-year-old Jamie Campbell to death with rocks before throwing him into a river in Drumchapel, Glasgow.

He was convicted of culpable homicide at the High Court in Edinburgh because of his age and sent to a residential school, Kerelaw secure unit, in Stevenston, Ayrshire.

It emerged later that Keith had attacked another child three weeks before killing Jamie.

He had tied up Thomas Garrity, also three, beaten him and threatened to kill him. Keith was released in January 1999.



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