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Wales Online
Wales Online
Adam Dutton & Steven Smith

'Sadistic' thug live-streamed murder of his aunt's partner

A crazed thug who battered to death his aunt’s partner in a "sadistic" attack live-streamed on social media has been jailed for life. Declan O’Donnell, 24, repeatedly kicked, punched and stamped on 63-year-old Paul Cox during a two-hour rampage at a flat.

Police were called when he uploaded harrowing footage of the brutal attack onto Facebook and Instagram on February 10 last year. A court heard his followers pleaded with him to stop with one web user writing: "Stop, you are killing him."

Mr Cox was left with multiple fractures and internal bleeding despite his aunt, who was in the property at the time, also begging him to stop. Emergency crews arrived at the flat in Mansfield Road in Nottingham city centre and took Mr Cox to Nottingham's Queen’s Medical Centre, where he died nine days later.

O’Donnell, of Nottingham, admitted manslaughter, but pleaded not guilty to murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He was found guilty of murder following a 13-day trial at Nottingham Crown Court and was jailed for life, to serve a minimum of 23 years, on Friday. Judge James Sampson accepted he had been suffering from a mental disorder, but it did not absolve him of the attack, which he described as “brutal” and “grotesque”.

Judge Sampson said: “You punched him so hard that you damaged your own hand. With that punch, you knocked him out and the injury to your hand angered you even more.

“For the next almost two hours, you subjected this defenceless and semi-conscious man to a relentless and humiliating assault. Throughout the attack, you filmed yourself and him as he laid bloodied, beaten and distressed on the floor. Words do not do justice to the horror of the images the jury had to see."

During the trial, jurors viewed disturbing footage of Mr Cox drifting in and out of consciousness having been repeatedly attacked by O’Donnell.

The attack left him with a catalogue of injuries, including a fractured skull, a broken spine, a broken jaw, wounds to the right side of his head and abdominal bleeding. When police arrived, O’Donnell was uncooperative and threated officers with a knife before being arrested. Detectives examined the footage in which O’Donnell could be heard blaming Mr Cox for his mother’s death, which was related to alcohol abuse.

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Mr Cox’s family said in a joint statement afterwards: “We wish to thank the police and the legal team in helping us to achieve justice for Paul. We are pleased with the outcome, but as a family we are so saddened at the thought of how many lives this has destroyed.

“Nothing can bring our Paul back, and although it does not make what has happened any easier to deal with, we believe that this was truly the right result. For our family, the past 15 months have been the most difficult time of our lives, and now that this is over we can finally focus on grieving for Paul. Our thoughts are with everyone that has been impacted by what Declan O’Donnell did that night.”

Paul Cox (SWNS)

Detective Inspector Melanie Crutchley, of Nottinghamshire Police, said on Friday: “This was a truly horrifying attack, almost defying belief in its brutality and utterly senseless nature. Not only was Paul beaten unconscious over a prolonged period of time, O’Donnell was lucid enough to live-stream the attack on his mobile phone, showing no mercy throughout.

“It was a sadistic attack and by refusing to accept responsibility for his horrendous actions, O’Donnell subjected Paul’s loved ones to further pain by taking the case to trial, where the footage had to be replayed in open court. Today’s sentence will not bring Paul back, but it does mean that O’Donnell will spend a considerable part of his life behind bars, and I hope this gives his family some comfort.

“I would also like to thank the jury members for the professionalism they have shown, having had to sit and watch the attack clip by clip. No doubt the barbarity of O’Donnell’s actions will stay with them for the rest of their lives as well.”

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