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Anuj Bidve Killing: Kiaran Stapleton Found Guilty Of Murder

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Stapleton (right) said he doesn't know why he decided to shoot Bidve at point blank range
Stapleton (right) said he doesn't know why he decided to shoot Bidve at point blank range

Kiaran Stapleton has been found guilty by a jury at Manchester Crown Court of murdering Indian student Anuj Bidve.

Stapleton, who called himself 'Psycho', has been found guilty of murdering an Indian student at random.

Kiaran Stapleton walked up to stranger Anuj Bidve, 23, in the street in Salford, Greater Manchester, and shot him in the head at point blank range.

Stapleton, 21 had admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility but a jury at Manchester Crown Court rejected that argument and convicted him of murder.

Sentencing will take place tomorrow at a time to be confirmed.

Before the verdict was announced, Stapleton, wearing a grey Adidas tracksuit, jogged up the steps to the dock from the cells.

He looked around the courtroom and grinned before the jury foreman stood up.

He stared straight ahead as the verdict was announced.

Mr Bidve had arrived in the UK last September to embark on postgraduate studies in micro-electronics.

His parents, Subhash and Yogini, flew from their home in Pune, India, to attend the trial and each day listened intently to the evidence from the front row of the public gallery.

As the verdict was delivered. Mrs Bidve cried and Mr Bidve bowed in his seat and later held his hands to his face.

Stapleton's parents, Tony and Billie-Jean, stayed away from the trial.

Four of Stapleton's eight brothers and sisters attended most days, including one brother who sported the same teardrop tattoo as the defendant.

Some of his siblings were in tears at the outcome.

Mr Bidve was visiting Manchester with a group of friends from Lancaster University last Christmas.

They left their hotel in the early hours of Boxing Day to queue early for the sales when their paths crossed with Stapleton's.

He calmly walked across the road and repeatedly asked for the time.

When someone finally answered he pulled a handgun out of his pocket and fired one shot to Mr Bidve's left temple.

He was then seen to smirk or laugh over his victim's body before he ran off to his nearby home in Ordsall. The weapon, which fired a 9mm bullet, has not been found.

Mr Bidve never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead in hospital.

Stapleton later told a psychologist in prison that he picked out his victim because "he had the biggest head".

The defendant's callousness and audacity was stark in the days that followed while he remained at large.

First he booked into a hotel which overlooked the crime scene in Ordsall Lane to keep pace with the investigation and revel in the chaos he had created.

Then he went to a tattoo parlour and had a teardrop design placed below his right eye - a symbol used by some gangs to mark that the wearer has killed someone.

After he was arrested and charged with murder he made his first appearance at Manchester Magistrates' Court and gave his name as "Psycho Stapleton".

The charge was prompted by a statement to police from his friend Ryan Holden, who was on the other side of the road as Stapleton pulled the trigger.

Mr Holden is now in witness protection along with his immediate family and his cousin, Chelsea Holden, who is the ex-partner of Stapleton and mother of their young daughter.

In the hours before the shooting, Stapleton and Mr Holden spent Christmas night with friends and the defendant became angry when someone mentioned his ex-partner had slept with another man.

Mr Holden told the jury Stapleton said to him it had been the "worst year of his life" after he lost his house, his girlfriend and hardly saw his daughter.

The Crown did not accept his manslaughter plea last month and in his trial said all the ingredients for murder were there in that he intended to kill or cause serious harm to Mr Bidve.

He was "calculating" in his movements and targeted his victim because he wanted to.

Both the prosecution and defence agreed Stapleton had a recognised medical condition - an anti-social personality disorder.

He showed traits of callousness, impulsiveness, anger, lack of remorse and incapacity to experience guilt.

The defence claimed he suffered from an abnormality of mental functioning because of the disorder and it probably substantially impaired his ability to exercise self-control.

That was the most likely cause or a significant contributory factor as to why he shot Mr Bidve, they argued during five weeks of evidence.

But the jury rejected that argument less than two hours and 15 minutes after retiring to consider its verdict.

MP Keith Vaz, who has supported the Bidve family throughout following the shooting, welcomed the verdict.

He said: "Justice has been done. The Bidve family have shown great dignity throughout this sad time.

"The trial has been painful for them and I hope this verdict will allow them to rebuild their lives without their beloved son Anuj.

"Greater Manchester Police have done an outstanding job. It is a model for other police forces to follow. They swiftly apprehended Anuj's killer and brought him to justice within just seven months. I also commend the efforts of the Crown Prosecution Service.

"I know that this case has been followed closely by people in India and others in the UK. A young man has been murdered. His killer has now been brought to justice. I hope that international students will continue to come and study in Britain where they will be welcomed."

Sentencing will take place at 11am tomorrow.

Mr Justice King said he needed time to reflect on matters.

Addressing the judge, Brian Cummings QC, prosecuting, said the starting point for sentencing for a murder using a firearm was 30 years.

He told the court that Stapleton was on bail at the time of the murder, awaiting sentencing for a road rage assault he committed last summer.

He said the victim impact statements that would be referred to tomorrow would describe the "most devastating impact upon the family, other family members and those who knew the victim".

Simon Csoka QC, defending, said his client's age, "difficult" personal background and lack of education should be taken into account.

"I would suggest he has shown a very strong streak of immaturity which came across in the police interviews and while giving evidence," he said.

The judge pointed out that, whatever sentence he imposes on Stapleton, he would only be released if he was considered to no longer pose a danger to the public.

"That may not ever happen," he added.

He thanked the jurors for the way they had applied themselves to the case over "many, many days" and invited them to attend the sentencing tomorrow.

As Stapleton left the dock, he looked towards one of his sisters in the public gallery and gave a beaming smile.

Tributes were paid to Anuj from staff at Lancaster University, who announced they were launching the annual Anuj Bidve Memorial Scholarship in his honour.

Vice-chancellor Professor Mark E. Smith said: "We will remember Anuj Bidve as an outstanding student at the very beginning of a promising career. His family have suffered a terrible and lasting loss and our deepest sympathies are extended to them.

"As a fitting and lasting way to celebrate Anuj's life the University has set up the annual Anuj Bidve Memorial Scholarship which will fund a student graduating from the University of Pune to come to Lancaster University to study an MSc in the Engineering Department.

"We hope that the first student to receive the award could come in October 2012."

Professor Andrew Richardson, from the Engineering Department, said: "Anuj was a pleasure to teach. His enthusiasm and attention to detail was part of what makes teaching in a university environment such an enjoyable experience.

"I will greatly miss Anuj as will my fellow academic colleagues and PhD students."

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