Twins jailed for killing and robbing
By Paul Lewis - Guardian.co.uk
February 3, 2006
Twin brothers were yesterday sentenced to nine
years in jail for killing their step-grandmother on their 18th
birthday. Robert and Jonathan Maskell and their 19-year-old friend
Dwane Johnston, all from Edmonton, north London, were convicted of
robbery and the manslaughter of 74-year-old Anjelica Hallwood last
month, but cleared of murder.
They killed the frail pensioner, whom the twins
called Nana, as they ransacked her home searching for her savings.
Sentencing the three at the Old Bailey to nine
years for manslaughter and a further seven years for robbery, Judge
Gerald Gordon said their "thuggery" had brought devastation to Mrs
Hallwood's family. Their sentences will be served concurrently in a
young offenders' institute, and all three must serve an extended
license period of three years after their release.
During the trial, the court heard how the twins
excused themselves from their birthday party in January last year,
suspecting that Mrs Hallwood had up to £3,000 hidden in her house.
The three broke into Mrs Hallwood's home, where
Johnston was staying after leaving prison the previous day, and stole
more than £1,000. During the raid, Johnston hit Mrs Hallwood, who was
just 4ft 10in, in the face, and put pressure on her throat as he
pinned her to the ground. Before returning to the party, the Maskells
spent some of the stolen cash on a mobile top-up card and a kebab. The
pensioner's body was discovered the next day.
Although the Maskells were not blood relatives, she
had treated the twins as her grandsons and given their friend,
Johnston, a home when no one else would. Robert and Jonathan were the
sons of the former wife of Mrs Hallwood's son Peter.
The judge said: "For reasons of pure greed you set
out to rob her. You could so easily have arranged to steal while she
was out and safe. It is difficult to imagine a more despicable crime."
Detective Sergeant Derek Cameron said after the
case: "The twins visited her regularly when they were children and
lived nearby as extended family. She showed them nothing but
The Maskells had been friends with Johnston - their
half-sister's boyfriend - since they all attended a school for
children with learning difficulties. The twins, who were unemployed,
are said to have lived a fantasy life in internet chatrooms. In court,
the Maskell brothers and Johnston tried to blame the killing on each
Twins convicted of killing their grandmother
January 9, 2006
Twin brothers who sneaked out of their 18th
birthday party to rob their grandmother were convicted today of her
Jonathan and Robert Maskell broke into the home of
74-year-old widow Anjelica Hallwood with their sister's boyfriend,
Dwane Johnston. Her body was found the following day. She had been
beaten and strangled, the Old Bailey was told.
The brothers and Johnston, 19, all from Edmonton,
north London, were cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter.
The twins were found guilty of robbery, an offence to which Johnston
had already pleaded guilty.
Judge Gerald Gordon remanded the three in custody
for sentencing on January 31.
The court was told the youths thought the
pensioner, known as Nana to all of them, had up to £3,000 stashed at
her home. They broke in and the twins found just over £1,000, while
Johnston hit Mrs Hallwood in the face and put pressure on her throat
as he pinned her to the ground.
After leaving, they bought a mobile top-up card and
a kebab before returning to the party in January 2004.
"Jonathan Maskell asked his mother whether they
could leave the party to meet Johnston to get a birthday card from
him. The party continued in their absence," Anthony Leonard QC,
prosecuting, said. The three then went to Mrs Hallwood's home, where
Johnston had been staying since leaving prison the previous day after
serving a sentence for driving offences. They ransacked the house to
find money and in the struggle killed the pensioner, Mr Leonard said.
The next morning Mrs Hallwood's daughter, Joan, was
unable to get into her mother's house.
Johnston arrived and was able to slip the security
chain to gain access. They found the house in turmoil and, after being
asked to check the grandmother's bedroom, Johnston told Ms Hallwood he
thought her mother was dead, Mr Leonard said.
In court, the Maskells and Johnston tried to blame
the killing on each other. Robert and Jonathan were the sons of the
former wife of Mrs Hallwood's son, Peter.
Although the Maskells were not blood relatives,
they had been treated as grandsons and shown nothing but kindness by
The Maskells had been friends with Johnston since
they were 14 when they all attended a school for children with
learning difficulties. The twins had been suspected when £800 was
stolen from Mrs Hallwood on a previous occasion, but the family dealt
with it themselves rather than contact police.
Outside the court this afternoon, Peter Hallwood
said he felt a mixture of emotions ranging "from depression and
sadness to extreme anger".
"I am struggling to cope with the knowledge that
the twins and Johnston were capable of doing this," he said. "They are
the lowest of the low, cold and callous, and I can't believe they
would bite the hand that feeds them.
The Maskell Twins: Britain's Dumbest
By Peter Stubley
Geek twins Robert and Jonathan Maskell appeared
more likely to harm themselves than their frail old grandmother.
The brothers, who had learning difficulties and few
friends, were already outcasts and failures by the age of 18.
They spent most of their days on the internet,
desperately trying to impress underage girls on MSN messenger with
their deranged Gothic fantasies.
But in January 2005 the brothers began bragging to
two 15 year-old girls they had killed their gran for her £1,000 life
Robert's 'girlfriend' Siobhan Henderson, who had
once planned to run away from home in Darlington, County Durham, to
meet him, at first thought it was just a sick joke.
She later told police: ''Robert said he had killed
his grandmother, beaten her up and hit her with a hammer.
'Jonathan also said it as well. I thought they were
lying because they were like bragging. I didn't believe it. He said:
''We have killed her.'''
Her friend Hayley Rance, who had phone sex with the
other twin Jonathan, recalled: 'He told me they had killed their nana.
He also said he had cancer and he was going to hang himself.'
But this time their boasts were true.
Flesh and blood
Victim Anjelica Hallwood, 74, was not the twins
biological grandmother, but had adopted the pair as her own flesh and
blood and shown them only kindness.
Originally from Malta, she was just 4ft 10ins tall
and lived on the ground floor of her home at  Granville Avenue,
Edmonton, because she was too weak to climb the stairs.
The brothers had discovered she hoarded money in
her bedroom and stole around £800 from her the previous year.
They were also incapable of finding work and had
been sacked from their last job at Paradise Park Zoo in Broxbourne,
Herts, for crashing a jeep.
By January 27, 2005, the day before their 18th
birthday, they were seriously short of cash and were determined to
celebrate in style.
In desperation, they turned to their friend Dwane
Johnston, a classmate from Enfield Tuition College who had just that
morning been released from prison after serving a short sentence for
Together they came up with a plan to raid Ms
Hallwood's home on the night of their birthday party.
Slipping away from the family bash in Chalfont Road
just before midnight, the twins met up with Johnston and crept into
the house in darkness.
Minutes later neighbours heard loud bangs coming
from the property.
'She had money in the wardrobe'
According to the Johnston's later confession, the
brothers pulled out bags of cash from her wardrobe and drawers as
Johnston punched the pensioner in the face.
Johnston also forced his forearm into her neck, suffocating her as she
lay on the floor.
The teenagers then fled, dumping Mrs Hallwood's
treasured photographs in a nearby alleyway.
Even though they had left their grandmother for
dead, the twins tried to buy £40 in mobile phone top-up cards on their
They left empty handed when the shopkeeper told
them some of the cash was no longer legal tender.
So the twins rounded off their birthday
celebrations with a kebab before returning to the party as if nothing
The next morning the victim's daughter Joan
Hallwood went to the victim's house but could not get any answer at
the front door.
Johnston posed as a Good Samaritan and slipped the
security chain to allow Ms Hallwood in to find her mother lying dead
on the floor of her bedroom.
Drawers were spilled, the wardrobe had been smashed
open and clothes and blankets had been strewn over the corpse.
Laughing and joking
A postmortem later revealed Anjelica Hallwood had
been punched so hard that the bones in her face had been smashed.
The brothers feigned horror at the shocking news -
but within an hour were out shopping with their some of their loot.
Jonathan bought a mobile phone for £170, only to be
mugged by a group of hoodies on his return to Edmonton.
Unperturbed, he simply went home to collect more of
the stolen cash and bought another.
Chilling CCTV footage at the shop showed the
brothers laughing and joking as they spent their dead grandmother's
Johnston was at first treated as a witness, but his
story began to unravel and he was soon telling officers the robbery
was orchestrated by the Maskell twins.
He revealed: 'Jonathan was going on about robbing
her 'cos she had money in the wardrobe.'
A search of the house revealed the brothers had
left their fingerprints on a coffee jar and a boot print on an
envelope during the raid.
The twins did not give evidence during the Old
Bailey trial and denied any involvement in the killing.
Although the teenagers were cleared of murder they
were all convicted of manslaughter and robbery.
Judge Gerald Gordon jailed them for nine years
each, adding: 'It is difficult to imagine a more despicable crime.
'For reasons of pure greed and regardless of the
effect upon here you set out to rob her.
'You could so easily have arranged to steal while
she was out and safe but not a bit of it.
'Even though you knew that in order to rob she
would have to be restrained to enable you to carry out your ransacking
of what little remained to her, that is what you chose to do.
'The fact that this thuggery was mindless is no
consolation to Mrs Hallwood or her immediately family, who have been
devastated by what has happened.'
The last thing the twins heard as they walked down
to the cells was Mrs Hallwood's son shouting: 'Bye, scumbags'.
Robert and Jonathan Maskell
Robert and Jonathan Maskell