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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Frenzied attack after spending months playing violent computer games and researching how to kill
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: April 6, 2006
Date of birth: 1988
Victim profile: Cheryl Moss, 33
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife (72 times)
Location: Hornchurch, Essex, England, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to life in prison (minimum 20 years) on June 28, 2007

Stuart Harling: Britain's Most Dangerous Teenager

By Simon Alford

Stuart Harling was a loner who lived in a virtual world of ultra violent computer games and sick websites as he plotted his route to infamy as a serial killer.

The 19-year-old turned his back on his family and abandoned a career in accountancy as he immersed himself in a fantasy world which he turned into reality with the frenzied murder of Cheryl Moss, 32.

Harling would later tell psychiatrists he had dreamed of becoming a serial killer after watching a documentary on American multiple murder Richard Ramirez who claimed 13 victims in the Los Angeles area.

He had meticulously researched the work of other serial killers and became obsessed with weapons and violence.

Harling spent endless days on the internet, talking to paedophiles in chatrooms and researching infamous murderers like Dennis Nielsen, Colin Ireland and Daniel Gonzalez.

Psychiatrist Anthony Payne revealed: 'He seemed to want infamy. He wanted media attention where he was portrayed as the victim.'

Dr Philip Joseph, a leading consultant psychiatrist added: 'I can't think of a more dangerous teenager in the country.'

Harling had been a church altar boy and a promising pupil aged 11 at Campion Grammar School, Hornchurch, where he impressed teachers with an obvious academic talent.

But they also noticed his 'bizarre' sense of humour and his problems interacting with other children.

Days at the Console

Endof term reports demanded more concentration and contributions in class but soon Harling was skipping schoolwork and spending whole days at a time on his games console.

After leaving school at 16 Harling completed an accountancy course at Havering College but then cut himself off from family to fanticise about rape and torture in the solitude of his bedroom.

His Playstation games stacked up around him as he connected with the animated characters in a way he could never achieve with real people.

The collection included 'Manhunt' in which players score points for their most gruesome executions which are then replayed in a movie-style clip.

Earlier this month the game's sequel, 'Manhunt2', became the first computer game to be banned in the UK for more than a decade.

Harling had been bullied at school and dreamed of staging a massacre like that at Colombine High School where he could pick off the children responsible.

He described another horrifying fantasy in storytitled 'Murder at Upminster Bridge' about the rape and murder of a black woman at a train station, which he saved in secret computer file

During the ten months before the killing he put together a 'murderkit'  by buying items on Ebay including a hunting knife, leathergloves, sunglasses, Adidas jacket and witch's wig.

Lethal Techniques

He learned killing skills from CD instruction manual entitled 'Hand toHand Combat, Knife Fighting and Self Defence' used to train the USmarine corps.

The long walks he took alone inHornchurch Country Park, soon turned into to 'dry-runs' for murder as Harling revelled in the idea of becoming his town's first serialkiller.

On April 6 last year, he put the plan into action.

Harling chose the first suitable victim he came across - the nurse who had popped outside for her usual cigarette break.

Mrs Moss had worked at the hospital for more than ten years and had been married to husband Peter for just 18 months.

It was her father Terence Ewart's birthday and she was due to meet with family to celebrate later that day.

Wearing the wig and sunglasses and armed with a razor-sharp hunting knife, Harling stabbed Mrs Moss 73 times as he lost control in an 'explosionof violence.' 

He plunged the blade in to her face, back and arms with such force that one blow split open her skull.

Many of the injuries were inflicted as she lay on the ground, too badly injured to defend herself.

Friends Find the Body

The teenage killer dumped his kit in the park nearby, leaving his victim to be found by her friends from the hospital and a woman out walking her dog.

Within an hour Harling was logging back on to the internet, desperate to see the first news flashes about the murder.

'He murdered because he wanted to, for sexual or other gratification or perhaps to see what it was like to kill like so many of his heroes who he had clearly been researching,' said prosecutor Brian Altman.

'Perhapshe wanted to be the first serial killer in his town, having two days before the killing done internet searches including 'serial killer Essex', 'serial killer Romford', 'serial killer Barking', 'serialkiller Havering'.

Harling had inadvertently left his address in the bloodied murder kit and police were soon at his door.

In prison before his trial Harling told an officer he killed Mrs Moss because he was 'bored.'

Harling blamed his 16-year-old sister for 'grassing'on him to police and during the trial ordered his parents not to watch proceedings from the public gallery.

He even managed to send a threatening letter to a 17-year-old witness who found his bag.

Harling made the bizarre claim in court he had murdered Mrs Moss as the first part of a plan to stage a coup in Equatorial Guinea.

'I Felt Nothing'

He revealed he had felt nothing when he killed Mrs Moss, as if she was just another animation on a computer screen in one of his games.

Harling, of (18) BlakeClose, Rainham, Essex, denied murder.

JaiIing him for a minimumof 20 years Judge Brian Barker told him: 'You have demonstrated to us that your destructive and deadly actions appear to have meant little to you.

'Cheryl Moss had the misfortune to stumble across your path.'

Outsidecourt Mrs Moss's devastated husband Peter, 43, said: 'The brutality of Cheryl's murder was very shocking. 'This evil person should never be released."


Teenage 'fantasist' jailed for life for nurse murder

June 29, 2007

Trainee accountant and former altar boy Stuart Harling must serve at least 20 years for murdering a nurse as she took a cigarette break.

Stuart Harling, 19, stabbed Cheryl Moss more than 70 times in a frenzied attack after spending months playing violent computer games and researching how to kill.

He picked her at random after spotting her having a cigarette on a secluded path in the grounds of the hospital where she worked.

"I went out that day with the knife and other stuff because I was bored," Harling told the court.

"I remember stabbing her in the back. I only stopped because my wig fell off. I was kinda surprised when I heard she was dead. It doesn't really bother me. I'd do it again."

He then added, flippantly: "It kinda ruined my day."

Harling read about murder hours before setting upon Mrs Moss, 33, as she took her morning break.

He learned killing skills from a U.S. marines training manual and made "dry runs" in Hornchurch Country Park in Essex as he plotted to become the town's first serial killer.

Psychiatrist Dr Philip Joseph told the Old Bailey he could not think of a "more dangerous teenager in the country" and police said they had no doubt Harling would have committed more murders if he had not been caught.

He spent ten months buying items for his "murderer's kit" on eBay, including a hunting knife, leather gloves, sunglasses, jacket and wig.

On April 6 last year, Harling put on the wig and glasses and took the knife before going out to search for a victim.

Nurse Cheryl Moss was murdered at random

Mrs Moss did not even have time to scream as he knifed her outside St George's Hospital.

He dumped his kit in the park and within an hour was logging on to see news flashes about the murder.

Hospital staff found Mrs Moss after the alarm was raised by a dog walker.

But Harling had inadvertently left his address in his discarded murder kit and was arrested the following day at his parents' home, where he lived with them and his 16-year-old sister.

He denied murder but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

He claimed he had the mental illness Asperger's syndrome and said the killing was the first part of a plan to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea in a military coup.

But the jury convicted him of murder by a majority of ten to one.

Psychiatrist Dr Andrew Payne told the court: "He seemed to want infamy. He wanted media attention where he was portrayed as the victim."

A keen boy Scout and a bright pupil, Harling became obsessed with violent computer games in his early teens.

After leaving school, he gained three accounting qualifications but did not bother to do the work experience he needed to complete his training.

Instead he shut himself away with his computer, building his murderous virtual world. He spent days on the Internet, talking to paedophiles in chatrooms and researching infamous murderers such as Dennis Nielsen.

He fantasised about rape and wrote a blog about killing a black woman.

Harling, of Rainham, Essex, revealed he felt nothing when he killed Mrs Moss - as if she was a computer animation.

He told psychiatrists he dreamed of becoming a serial killer after seeing a documentary on "Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez, who claimed 13 victims in Los Angeles. In jail before his trial, he told an officer he killed Mrs Moss because he was bored.

He was not in court for the verdict, having been kept in his cell for most of the trial after he hurled abuse at the judge and prosecutor Brian Altman.

He told Mr Altman he would "cut off his head and s*** down the hole" then threw documents from the dock.

Mrs Moss's husband Peter, 42, ran out of court in tears after the verdict.

He later paid tribute to his wife, who cared for the elderly at St George's for ten years. In a statement, he said: "This evil person should never be released.

"True justice should be life for a life, and until this deterrent is used it is unlikely that violent crime and murder will subside."

After the trial, Detective Chief Inspector John Macdonald said: "I have no doubt that if Harling had not been arrested, he would have gone on to commit other murders."

Mrs Moss's husband Peter said: "We are glad that this evil person was caught quickly so that no one else had to lose their life, as this was very likely."

Brian Altman, prosecuting, said: "This had been a most frenzied and ferocious murderous attack. She had been brutally stabbed to death.

It robbed the community of a vibrant and contributing member with so much of her life in front of her."

"He was just a cold-blooded killer who acted out his fantasy.

"She turned out to be the tragic, unfortunate person who the defendant came across that day.

"She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time." He added: "Stuart Harling led the life of a loner, a fantasist. He lived in a virtual world.

"Enthused, influenced and fuelled by the fantasy world in which he lived, he developed a plan to murder someone, which he then executed in a chillingly cold-blooded way."

Harling was sentenced in his absence after he refused to go into court.

The judge, Common Serjeant of London Brian Barker, said Harling said there was an indication that others might be hurt if he was forced to go into the dock.

Judge Barker said he would send Harling's evidence and papers in the case to the Parole Board.

Harling, the court heard, had told a prison officer that he could kill again if he was bored.


Teenager knifed nurse 70 times in hospital murder

By Duncan Campbell -

June 29, 2007

A teenage trainee accountant who lived in a "virtual world" and fantasised about serial killers and knives was convicted yesterday of murdering a nurse as she took a cigarette break outside a hospital. An Old Bailey jury rejected his claims that he suffered from a mental abnormality.

Stuart Harling, 19, from Rainham, Essex, was convicted of the murder of Cheryl Moss, 33, from Dagenham, who was stabbed and slashed more than 70 times near St George's hospital, in Hornchurch, Essex, in April last year.

Harling, described in court as a "cold-blooded killer", admitted the killing but claimed he was guilty only of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. During the trial he insulted the judge, absented himself from proceedings and threw papers out of the dock. He refused to come up from the Old Bailey cells to hear the jury convict him by a 10 to one majority. He will sentenced today.

The jury heard that Harling, who had 10 GCSEs and lived with his parents, existed "in a virtual world, playing computer games and surfing insalubrious websites, finding interest in such topics as serial killers, murder, racism and pornography".

He attacked Mrs Moss, who worked as an auxiliary nurse, with a combat knife as she took a brief break for a smoke in the hospital grounds. The attack was so swift and violent that Mrs Moss, who was only 5ft 1in (1.55 metres) tall, probably did not have time to scream, the jury heard.

"He was just a cold-blooded killer who acted out his fantasy," prosecuting counsel Brian Altman told the court. "She turned out to be the tragic, unfortunate person who the defendant came across that day. She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

The computer at Harling's house showed that he had an obsessive interest in serial killers and weapons. He researched on the internet such notorious murderers as Dennis Nilson, Jeffrey Dahmer and Colin Ireland and also investigated "Nazi knives" and "hand-to-hand combat".

His other internet searches included "strangling", "choking" and "game of death", the court heard. On the morning after the killing Harling explored various news websites for details of the killing which he had just carried out. He also claimed he had been researching the possibility of carrying out a military coup in Equatorial Guinea with 150 other people.

Harling, a former scout leader, whose parents were away at the time of the murder, initially claimed the injuries he suffered during the attack resulted from a fall.

Later he claimed he had been suffering from a form of mental abnormality and suggested he possibly had Asperger's syndrome with a schizoid personality disorder or was suffering from a psychotic illness.

The prosecution alleged that he had never sought help for his supposed condition before the murder and that he had been acting out a violent fantasy in a premeditated attack. In the weeks before the killing he had been applying for jobs in accountancy.

The court heard that Harling had carried out what appeared to be a dry run for his attack. He had already ordered a hunting knife on eBay and had it sent to his home. He also bid for a hand-to-hand combat CD which was used for US marines' training. It gave advice on what parts of the body to attack with a knife and how to carry out slashing techniques.


Mentally ill or a cold-blooded murderer?

By Mario Cacciottolo -

June 28, 2007

A man who dreamed of organising a military coup in Africa has been jailed for life for murdering a nurse after a trial which was punctuated by outbursts of foul-mouthed abuse from the defendant.

What was never in doubt at the trial of Stuart Harling was that he stabbed nurse Cheryl Moss 72 times as she took a cigarette break outside St George's Hospital in Hornchurch, Essex.

The jury was simply asked to decide if he murdered her in cold blood or while suffering from a mental disorder.

In the end they did not believe his unstable behaviour in court, which included hurling papers from the dock and shouting threats - he was removed from court on one occasion for threatening to shoot the prosecution with a machine gun. They rejected his claims of innocence on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

But the case does highlight the massive difficulties surrounding the diagnosis of mental disorders.

Expert witnesses

Harling's barrister, Michael Wolkind, QC, called several psychiatrists to give evidence.

Dr Philip Joseph said Harling had either an Asperger's syndrome, which is a form of autism, or a personality disorder.

He disputed suggestions by prosecutor Brian Altman, QC, that Harling was feigning mental illness and added: "The suggestion of him pretending to be mad is completely opposed to what he is trying to do - to appear to be a normal person."

But is it possible for someone of sound mind to reach the age of 19, complete an accountancy course and be looking for jobs, before carrying out a brutal killing?

Equally is it possible to go without having mental health issues diagnosed - or even noticed - by family or doctors?

Mr Altman said Harling knew exactly what he was doing, right up to killing Mrs Moss. He pointed out Harling had bought a knife and a knife-fighting manual on eBay in advance and he argued that his actions were clearly premeditated.

Defence psychiatrist Professor Digby Tantam, was asked by the judge if it was rare for people with Asperger's to carry out physical assaults.

He replied: "No. Violence occurs with people with Asperger's no more than with the general population but when it does happen it tends to be directed at strangers."

Bill controversy

The Mental Health Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, includes controversial plans to allow people with untreatable personality disorders to be detained even if they have not committed crimes.

Ministers have been trying to update mental health legislation for England and Wales since 1998.

The trial heard how Harling stabbed Mrs Moss in the hope of stealing her car keys. It was the start of a bizarre plan to travel to Equatorial Guinea in order to stage a coup, possibly following in the footsteps of British mercenary Simon Mann who was accused of hatching a similar plot in 2004.

Despite Harling's earlier disruptive behaviour, he later appeared calmer and gave evidence in the witness box.

He said he did not know why he had stabbed Mrs Moss but added: "It kinda ruined my day."

Michael Howlett, of mental health charity the Zito Trust, said the new bill would probably not have prevented Harling from killing Mrs Moss.

'Out of the blue'

He told the BBC News website: "It's an interesting case and not one that can easily be tied in with the Mental Health Bill.

"If there's nothing previous in his life in terms of mentally ill behaviour, if he's relatively intelligent with GCSEs, then maybe it's come out of the blue and it could be the first time that he's displayed problems.

"Up until that day perhaps nobody was any the wiser until the police got into his computer and saw that he was a disturbed human being.

"There's a question as to whether this guy should have been seen by somebody. But it's not a crime to be a loner and unpopular at school."

Mr Howlett said psychiatrists would be "falling over themselves to give opinions on this case" and they would probably all give differing ones, but crucially Harling must be dealt with in an appropriate manner following his sentencing.

'He could get worse'

He said: "The authorities are going to have to deal with him carefully and appropriately.

"If he just goes to prison then he could be out in 10 years, and where he could actually get substantially worse. If there's any issue with him then they need to work out what it is.

"He does seems highly disturbed. The question is why, and since when."

In October 2004, teenager Paul Smith was jailed for life for murdering a 10-year-old girl, Rosie May Storrie, at a Christmas party in Leicestershire.

Smith did suffer from Asperger's Syndrome but there was no suggestion that the killing was directly related to the condition.

A spokeswoman for the National Autistic Society said it could not comment on individual cases, but said Asperger syndrome was a developmental disability and "does not make a person more likely to intentionally commit a crime".

She said: "In many cases, individuals with autism are unusually concerned to keep the letter of the law, due to the nature of the disability.

"However, a person with autism may come to the attention of the police and other services through misunderstandings related to their social and communication difficulties, and through a lack of appropriate support."


Teenager describes killing nurse

June 19, 2007

A teenager has told a jury he does not know why he stabbed a nurse to death.

Stuart Harling described ambushing Cheryl Moss, 33, as she took a break near woods behind St George's Hospital, Hornchurch, east London, in April 2006.

"I remember stabbing her in the back while she was on the floor there," the trainee accountant told the jury. "It was like seeing a film."

Mr Harling, 19, from Rainham, admits the killing but denies murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Crocodile Dundee

He spotted the nurse having a cigarette in some woods behind the hospital and waited until she finished speaking on her mobile phone.

Wearing a wig and carrying a Crocodile Dundee-style knife, Mr Harling then ran towards her.

Mr Harling said: "I thought I would try to get a glint of the sun on [the knife] so it was clearly seen.

"She noticed me and she said 'oh no'. I was still running. I started stabbing her in the back."

Mrs Moss, 33, who was stabbed 72 times, was already dead when she was found by her colleagues.

Mr Harling said he had been been trying to steal a car as part of a plot to overthrow an African government.

He said he had staked out the hospital car park and had planned to threaten the nurse to get her car keys.



Cheryl Moss, 33, from Dagenham, who was stabbed and slashed more than 70 times near St George's hospital, in Hornchurch, Essex, in April 2006.



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