Stuart Harling: Britain's Most Dangerous
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
'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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
He fantasised about rape and wrote a blog about killing a black
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
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
"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
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
By Duncan Campbell - Guardian.co.uk
June 29, 2007
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
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
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
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 - BBC.co.uk
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.
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
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."
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
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
"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
"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
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
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.
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
near St George's hospital, in Hornchurch, Essex, in April 2006.