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Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (17) - Mutilation - A student whose desire to become a vampire led him to cut out a woman's heart and drink her blood
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 24, 2001
Date of arrest: January 8, 2002
Date of birth: 1984
Victim profile: Mabel Leyshon, 90
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife (22 times)
Location: Llanfair PG, Anglesey, North Wales, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to life in prison (minimum 12 years) on August 2, 2002

Killer obsessed with vampires is jailed for life

By Nigel Bunyan -

August 3, 2002

A student whose desire to become a vampire led him to cut out a woman's heart and drink her blood was jailed for life yesterday.

Mathew Hardman, 17, butchered Mabel Leyshon, 90, a widow, after breaking into her home last November. He used a kitchen knife to cut open her chest before removing her heart and placing it in a saucepan on a silver platter.

Afterwards he positioned two brass pokers at her feet in the shape of a crucifix. A candlestick was placed on the floor close to the body, and a red candle balanced on the mantelpiece at the house in Llanfair PG, Anglesey, North Wales.

Hardman burst into tears as the jury at Mold Crown Court returned its unanimous verdict. In the public gallery, his mother, Julie, shrieked and began sobbing.

Also in the gallery was a teenage German exchange student whom Hardman had begged to bite his neck two months before the murder. The girl, now 17, left the court in tears and refused to comment on the verdict.

Mr Justice Richards, who lifted an earlier order banning Hardman's identification, told the teenager he should serve a minimum of 12 years in prison. The judge said Hardman's motivation for killing and then mutilating his victim was difficult to comprehend.

However, he had been drawn to the conclusion "that vampirism had indeed become a near obsession with you, that you really did believe that this myth may be true, that you did think that you would achieve immortality by the drinking of another person's blood and you found this an irresistible attraction."

During the three-week trial Roger Thomas, QC, prosecuting, suggested that Hardman, who was once his victim's paper boy, had developed an overwhelming fascination with vampires.

"He believed they existed, believed they drank human blood, and believed most importantly that they could achieve immortality."

The killer had become obsessed with two questions: "How do I become a vampire?" and "How do I become immortal?" He decided he needed to carry out the "grotesque" killing in order to provide a sacrifice.

Mrs Leyshon was set upon from behind as she sat in an armchair watching television in the lounge of her bungalow. As she fought for her life she was stabbed 22 times. The wound to her chest was nearly eight inches long and nine inches wide. Once the pensioner was dead Hardman made several deep gashes in her legs, and began draining her blood into a small saucepan taken from the kitchen, from which he then drank.

Despite the macabre nature of the murder, Hardman's legal team brought no evidence of insanity. As a result the jury had no medical issue to consider.

Two months before the killing Hardman had told the 16-year-old German student that he thought she was one of a community of local vampires.

While in her bedroom he pushed his neck against her mouth and pleaded with her to bite him so that he, too, could become a vampire. Initially she thought he was joking, but later began screaming when he pushed her on to the bed and repeated the order: "Bite me."

A few minutes earlier he had described Llanfair PG as a "perfect" location for vampires, since many of its residents were elderly. If they died nobody would notice.

"I was really afraid because he had this lunatic look in his eye," she told the court. When police arrested him Hardman confessed to smoking cannabis at the time of the incident.

During a search of his bedroom officers found books, magazines and internet material devoted to vampirism and the occult.

Hardman was known to friends in Llanfair PG and nearby Bangor as a "remarkably normal" teenager. He excelled at art during his time at the David Huws School, Menai Bridge, and won a place at Coleg Menai in Bangor. He was a month into an art and design course when he turned his mind to ritualistic murder.

A family friend said: "He wasn't a weirdo. He didn't wear black, and neither was he a village bad lad. He was just a normal kid who wore jeans and trainers. That's what makes it all the more shocking."


Teenager guilty of pensioner's 'vampire ritual' killing

August 3, 2002

A teenager was today found guilty of murdering his elderly neighbour and drinking her blood in a vampire ritual.

Art student Mathew Hardman, 17, was jailed for a minimum of 12 years after being found guilty of butchering Mabel Leyshon at her home in Llanfairpwll, Anglesey, last November.

The 90-year-old widow's heart was cut out and her blood appeared to have been drunk from a saucepan.

The teenager was obsessed by vampires and killed Mrs Leyshon in a bid to become one of the creatures.

He denied any involvement in the murder and claimed his alleged fascination with vampires was no more than a "subtle interest".

The jury at Mold Crown Court retired to consider its verdict yesterday.

After the verdict was reached, trial Mr Justice Richards lifted an order banning his identification.

Hardman was convicted by a unanimous verdict.

The 17-year-old wept when the male foreman read out the verdict and his mother shrieked and sobbed in the public gallery.

Judge Mr Justice Richards said all the evidence pointed to the fact that Hardman believed he could achieve immortality by killing Mrs Leyshon and drinking her blood.

Mr Justice Richards said: "You have been convicted by the jury on the strength of the most compelling evidence.

"The horrific nature of this murder was plain to all. It was a vicious and sustained attack on a vulnerable old lady in her own home, aggravated by the mutilation of her body after she had been killed.

"It was planned and carefully calculated.

"Why you should have acted in this way is difficult to comprehend but I am drawn to the conclusion that vampirism had indeed become a near obsession with you, that you really did believe that this myth may be true, that you did think that you would achieve immortality by the drinking of another person's blood and you found this an irresistible attraction."

Mr Justice Richards continued: "It may well seem incredible but in my judgment that is where the evidence leads.

"One might hope for a psychological explanation for your behaviour but none is offered.

"I must proceed on the basis that you are of sound mind and I must look for an explanation for your behaviour elsewhere.

"You have specific learning difficulties but this can't account for it.

"I can make an allowance for a degree of confused thinking and immaturity, for some childish fantasising, but the fact remains this was an act of great wickedness and one that you have not faced up to and one for which you have not shown any remorse.

"You hoped for immortality but all you have achieved is the brutal ending of another person's life and the bringing of a life sentence upon yourself."

Superintendent Alan Jones, of North Wales Police, who led the investigation into the death of Mrs Leyshon on November 24 last year, welcomed the verdict.

Superintendent Jones said: "The evidence against Hardman was carefully gathered, as a result of the inquiries into Hardman himself, a detailed forensic examination of both the murder scene and his home address, and finally by in-depth examination by the Forensic Science Service of the items seized.

"The guilty verdict of the jury is confirmation beyond doubt that Mathew Hardman was responsible for her killing."

Hardman was watched from the public gallery by the teenage German exchange student whom he had begged to bite his neck two months before the murder.

The girl, now 17, left the court building in tears and refused to comment on the verdict.

Hardman's mother also sat in the public gallery flanked by two women who comforted her as she sobbed while the judge made his closing comments.

As Hardman was taken down from the dock, his mother leaned over the balcony and called down: "I love you, son".


Teenager guilty of 'vampire' murder

August 2, 2002

A teenager has been found guilty of the "savage" murder of a 90-year-old widow at her north Wales home.

The judge at Mold Crown Court recommended that Mathew Hardman should serve a minimum of 12 years.

As the jury returned a unanimous verdict, the 17-year-old wept in the dock and his mother shrieked and sobbed in the public gallery.

Mabel Leyshon was stabbed to death at her home in Llanfairpwll on Anglesey, in November 2001.

Hardman - who had lived just a few yards away and had been Mrs Leyshon's paper boy - mutilated her body before placing pokers at her feet in the shape of a cross.

Her heart had been removed, wrapped in newspaper and placed in a saucepan on a silver platter next to her body.

The prosecution said her killer drank her blood in a "macabre ritual".

After the verdict was delivered, the judge lifted a ban on naming Hardman which had been in place throughout the trial.

The prosecution said the teenager - who denied the charge - was obsessed with vampires and the occult, and had told others he wanted to kill someone in order to become immortal.

The 14-day hearing was told how he smashed his way into Mrs Leyshon's bungalow where he was watching television.

He stabbed her 22 times. DNA found at the murder scene matched that of blood found on a knife at Hardman's home.

The court was told of an incident two months before Mrs Leyshon's murder, when Hardman had accused a 16-year-old German girl of being a vampire.

Claiming she was "one of them", he begged the student to bite his neck so that he too could become a vampire.

When she refused, he became violent and began insisting, pressing his neck against her mouth. Eventually the girl had to summon help.

The prosecution also outlined how Hardman had surfed the internet for vampire websites and had read a magazine which featured an article on how to conduct a black mass.

The teenager denied being "obsessed", and told that court that his alleged fascination with vampires was nothing more than a "subtle interest".

Sentencing Hardman, Mr Justice Richards ordered that he be detained at Her Majesty's pleasure - a life sentence - and ruled that he should serve a minimum of 12 years for the murder.

"It was planned and carefully calculated," he said.


"Why you, an otherwise pleasant and otherwise well regarded young man, should act in this way is difficult to comprehend.

"You had hoped for immortality. All you achieved was to brutally end another person's life and the bringing of a life sentence upon yourself."

A jury took almost four hours to reach a verdict at the end of a trial which had been so gruesome journalists had found it difficult to report.

Hardman had been living with his mother Julia, a nurse, and her partner Alan Benneyworth, a former Ministry of Defence fireman, in a bungalow in Llanfairpwll.

Asthma attack

Born and raised in Amlwch, on the north coast of Anglesey, he moved to Llanfairpwll in 1998, when he was 13 years old.

That same year, his father - who had been separated from his mother - died from a massive asthma attack.

Although his parents lived apart, Hardman had remained close to his father and was upset by the tragedy.


From 'quiet lad' to killer

August 2, 2002

The youth convicted of the brutal murder of elderly widow Mabel Leyshon was a quiet boy, according to one of his school friends.

"He was a quiet lad, who kept himself to himself," said the former pupil.

"He was not a very sociable person and stayed in most of the time."

He said that no-one ever suspected 17-year-old Mathew Hardman had any involvement in the shocking crime until the defendant was arrested.

Hardman left David Huws School in Anglesey at the age of 16 and went on to study art and design at Menai College.

He had completed one term, and was also working part-time as a kitchen porter at a local hotel, when he was arrested in Llanfairpwll in January.

From the ages of 13 to 16, Hardman had had a weekly paper round which included visits to Mrs Leyshon's bungalow.

It emerges he had already dropped a chilling hint of what was to come during a conversation with a teenage German exchange student staying in the town.

He told her that he believed it was "a perfect place for vampires" because of the many elderly people there, and if any of them died after being bitten people would assumed they had had a heart attack.

He also said "it wouldn't matter too much" if he killed a pensioner - and had accused the girl of being a vampire and asked her to bite him.

But friends of Hardman had little reason to suspect he was capable of such a crime.

His school friend recalled an incident when he had missed the bus and had been offered a lift by the defendant.

"At the time I was in his house I didn't see anything strange to make me believe that he did it."

After Hardman was arrested, attention focused on his art portfolio.

Friends say it was full or "morbid and depressing" images - particularly death, blood and knives.

"I don't think anyone thought much of it before this happened but then obviously as more evidence came out and looking back now...

"But still it's very hard to believe because he's just a local lad," said the school friend.

'Well behaved'

Hardman was born and lived in Amlwch, on the north coast of Anglesey, before moving to Llanfairpwll in 1998, when he was 13.

He and his mother Julia, a nurse, and her partner Alan Benneyworth, a former Ministry of Defence fireman, lived in a bungalow.

That same year his father, who was separated from his mother, died from a massive asthma attack - causing distress to the youngster.


During his subsequent trial, a former school teacher described to the jury how he had been "a well behaved boy with a good sense of humour".

The special needs tutor, who had helped the defendant with dyslexia, spoke of a very pleasant, amenable young man who was keen to learn.

He would ask questions, but his writing and spelling had suffered because of his condition.

"He was always very well behaved," the teacher said, and there had never been any disciplinary problems.

Hardman's hobbies appeared to be no different from most teenage boys - computer games, television, pop music, art, lads' magazines and drinking with friends.

But the teenager also had a more unusual hobby, an interest in vampires and the occult, which was to become his obsession.


Murderer cut out the heart of lonely widow

By Nigel Bunyan -

December 21, 2001

THE heart of a 90-year-old woman found murdered at her home had been cut out, police said yesterday.

Mabel Leyshon was stabbed in the lounge of her bungalow overlooking the Menai Straits at Llanfairpwll, Anglesey.

Three weeks after the killing, police disclosed that the killer painstakingly removed her heart and left it on the floor near the body.

They are puzzled by the movement of Mrs Leyshon's body from one chair, where she had been killed, to another. Two brass pokers, in the form of a cross, had been placed at her feet.

The body was discovered the following afternoon by a social worker from Anglesey Council who called with her Sunday lunch.

Police say they are pursuing someone with considerable knowledge of physiology, gained perhaps through medical training or in the butchery trade, and the strength to open up a chest.

Detectives have consulted experts in the field of the occult and witchcraft and have also sought the help of psychological profilers. More than 100 people in the district have given DNA samples and police plan to widen the programme.

Det Supt Alan Jones of North Wales Police, who is leading the investigation, said his officers wanted to trace the driver of a blue van seen by several people in the area.

Neighbours described Mrs Leyshon as "a typical old lady living on her own".

She had not been closely involved with her family since being widowed 13 years ago. On the few occasions she left her home she attended her local church but police emphasised that she could not be regarded as being obsessively religious.

Liz Lewis, chairman of the community council, said there had been fear in Llanfairpwll since the murder on Nov 24. "That fear will remain until the person responsible is found," she said.


Mabel Leyshon, 90.



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