An “evil grandson” who built up a £35,000 gambling debt has been jailed for life after he was found guilty of stabbing his grandmother 40 times and leaving her to die on her kitchen floor.
Anne James, 74, was killed like a “proverbial lamb to the slaughter” after being confronted by Gregory Irvin, 26, as she made soup and unpacked shopping at her Walsall home.
Two days before the murder Irvin, who is autistic, had searched the internet on his phone for “old lady killed but killer never found”.
Irvin stood impassive in the dock at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday as he was sentenced to a minimum of 24 years in prison.
Judge Nerys Jefford told him he had killed Mrs James, referred to affectionately by her family as the “family bank”, for her money after racking up gambling and drug debts.
She said Mrs James, described as the “heart of the family” who often made jam and chutneys to sell for charity, had spent the day of her murder at a chiropractor appointment before shopping and had brought some fresh flowers.
Mrs James’ husband of 40 years Jim had been admitted to hospital with pneumonia a week earlier.
The retired nurse, who the court heard had given all her grandchildren £5,000 each to buy a car, was preparing soup and bread for lunch on February 28 2017 when Irvin arrived at her Doveridge Place home.
Turning to Irvin, Judge Jefford said: “For you that day had begun with you texting your mother to borrow money before you went to your gran’s house.
“You confronted her and we will never know exactly what happened but what you did next was motivated by money.
“You took a breadknife and slit her throat from behind causing a deep wound and severing her carotid artery and jugular vein.
“She would have collapsed to the ground the but you stabbed her in her back and turned her round to stab her in the chest a total of another 40 times.
“It was an attack of extraordinary ferocity and cruelty and your reaction was cold and calculating.
“You then went about covering your tracks removing a security camera in the kitchen and taking your grandmother’s phone.”
She added Irvin, who had been bullied at school and was sexually assaulted as a child, then continued to act normal and went to his parents’ house before having his tea and watching television.
The next day he even joined the family at his gran’s house after her body was discovered.
Earlier the court heard from Mrs James’ son Andrew, whose victim impact statement brought the defendant to tears in the dock as it was read out to the court by prosecutor Rachel Brand QC.
Mr James said he felt “numb and paralysed” describing his mother as full off “humanity and compassion” who had died “terrified and alone with an evil grandson.”
“He has ripped out my heart and stamped on it. She would have been frozen with fear – like a proverbial lamb to the slaughter.”
Irvin’s defence had claimed diminished responsibility, arguing that he couldn’t recall the killing but a jury found him guilty of murder earlier this month.
They heard how he had a £100-a-week cocaine habit and a previous conviction for stealing £29,000 of designer leather gloves from former employer of FedEx.
He was said to have constantly asked family and his girlfriend to borrow money, and Mrs James had already given £1,000 as well as £5,000 towards a car.
Irvin was linked to the crime by forensics, when blood matching that of Mrs James was found on his jacket and on the accelerator of his Mini after she was found dead on her pantry floor.
After his arrest, Irvin, told a doctor he and his grandmother had arranged for her to leave money hanging from the key safe near her door, but the judge said: “That, I have no doubt, was a lie.”
Irvin, whose barrister Timothy Raggatt QC told the court had “high-functioning” autistic spectrum disorder, nodded as he was jailed.
Raggatt, in mitigation, added: “It is a terrible situation for all concerned. It’s a true family disaster.”
Irvin left the court without looking at the half dozen family members sat just a few feet away in the public gallery.