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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Angered because the victim ended their relationship
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: May 7, 1998
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1949
Victim profile: His ex-girlfriend, Vickie Fletcher, 21
Method of murder: Shooting (Kalashnikov AK47)
Location: Castleford, West Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to life in prison (minimum 18 years) on April 19, 2000

Vickie Fletcher was a 21-year-old nurse who began working at Pontefract General Infirmary, West Yorkshire, in 1995. Also working at the hospital was 49-year-old anaesthetist Thomas Shanks. The two formed a stormy relationship that lasted three years. Eventually Vickie jilted Shanks and shortly afterwards began a relationship with David Griffin, a former patient at the hospital.

Shanks had served as a doctor in the SAS during the Gulf War. When he returned to Britain he smuggled into the country a Kalashnikov AK47 rifle as a souvenir and which he kept in his flat at the hospital.

On the evening of 7th May 1998 Miss Fletcher was having a drink with Mr Griffin and his son in the Castlefields public house in Castleford when she received a telephone call from Shanks. Following the call Vickie and her party left and went to another pub. Shanks turned up shortly afterwards and he and Vickie started to argue. Vickie left the pub and returned to the Castelfields.

Shanks returned to his flat, assembled the rifle and put it into his Peugeot car before driving back to wait in the Castlefields' car park. Vickie went out into the car park to speak to Shanks. Within minutes Shanks had brought out the rifle from his car and Vickie fled in terror. Shanks fired fifteen rounds in total, ten of which struck Miss Fletcher. She died within two hours. Putting the weapon back into his car, Shanks drove off and went to Lennoxtown, Strathclyde, where he was later arrested.

At his trial at Sheffield Crown Court, Shanks denied murder but admitted manslaughter, claiming that he had been affected mentally by his part in the Gulf War. On 19th April 2000, after a trial lasting eight weeks, Thomas Shanks was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was also found guilty on charges of possession of a weapon with intent to endanger life and illegal possession of the AK47. Concurrent terms of twelve years and nine years, respectively, were imposed.


SAS Man Who Killed Ex With Kalashnikov Could Be Out In Eight Years

By Ian Dow -

March 1, 2008

A FORMER SAS doctor who murdered his ex-girlfriend with a Kalashnikov assault rifle was told yesterday that he could be free in just eight years.

Scots-born hospital anaesthetist Dr Thomas Shanks shot nurse Vickie Fletcher 10 times in the back after she dumped him for another man.

A judge yesterday ordered Shanks to serve at least 18 years of a life sentence. But because he was originally jailed in 2000 and had already served two years while awaiting trial, he will be able to apply for parole in April 2016.

The judge, Mrs Justice Cox, said Shanks would have got more than 30 years if he had been sentenced today.

But she was bound by the more lenient sentencing guidelines in force at the time he was convicted.

Shanks was in court yesterday because of a law change which forces judges to set minimum terms for lifers.

Mrs Justice Cox said he had been convicted on overwhelming evidence of premeditated murder.

She said the worst feature of the case was that Shanks shot Vickie, 21, as she was walking away from him. She was still staggering from the first burst of gunfire when he fired a second at closer range.

Shanks murdered Vickie on May 7, 1998 outside a pub in Castleford, Yorkshire.

He had dated the nurse for three years while they worked together at nearby Pontefract General Infirmary, but Vickie left him for a former patient.

Crazed with jealousy, Shanks tracked Vickie and her new man to the pub and confronted them. He then went home for the Kalashnikov, a trophy from his service in the Gulf War, and returned to the scene.

Shanks also had an axe, a sheath knife and a baseball bat in his car.

He confronted Vickie again outside the pub and shot her down.

After the killing, Shanks drove to Glasgow. He was arrested in a phone box in nearby Lennoxtown and two Strathclyde traffic cops were given bravery awards for catching him.

Shanks told his trial he was not responsible for his actions when he shot Vickie and claimed his mind had been affected by Gulf war syndrome. But the trial judge said his defence was "spurious".

At the Royal Courts of Justice in London yesterday, Mrs Justice Cox rejected claims by the killer's lawyers that his sentence should be cut because of his "mental disorder".

She noted that Shanks had lost his temper and "manhandled" nurses at work several times before the murder. He had been given a final warning from the hospital over the incidents.

The judge said Shanks's good behaviour in jail painted "an encouraging picture". But she said his conduct was nowhere near exceptional enough to justify a sentence lower than 18 years.


Vickie Fletcher, a 21-year-old nurse.


The Castlefields



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