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Indian student murdered on Boxing day...

Sir Tokyo Sexwale

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Psycho - really? Not the brightest spark


what a horrible blert


A man who shot an Indian student on a street in Salford in the early hours of Boxing Day has been convicted of murder.


The jury at Manchester crown court found Kiaran Stapleton, 21, guilty of murdering 23-year-old Anuj Bidve, after a four-week trial. Stapleton had referred to himself as "Psycho" in an earlier hearing.


Subhash Bidve, Anuj's father said his son had carried with him the hopes and dreams of the family and was the "kindest and most genuine person on this Earth".


"Stapleton had never met our son and did not know anything about him," he said in a statement outside the court after the verdict. "Stapleton, in the blink of an eye, and the time it took a bullet to leave the gun he was holding, turned Anuj's hopes and dreams into our living and continuous nightmare."


Nazir Afzal, chief crown prosecutor for the north-west, said it was a terrible crime which "shocked and appalled us all". "It was more tragic because it was completely senseless," he said.


He said Bidve had his whole life ahead of him, was young and bright, a talented student who was enjoying his time at Lancaster University. His parents were understandably very proud of him. "Kiaran Stapleton shot Anuj, an innocent and defenceless man, at close range, without warning or provocation," he said.


Afzal described it as "a cowardly murder and his reaction afterwards in trying to cover his tracks, hide from police and evade justice, was also cowardly".


He added that Stapleton had shown no sign of remorse.


The trial heard that Stapleton had a teardrop tattooed on his face two days after the shooting, which can indicate the wearer has killed someone. He said it referred not to the death of Bidve, but to his pet goldfish and refused to answer questions about it during the trial, claiming he would receive "animal cruelty letters" in prison. The prosecution's barrister, Brian Cummings QC, accused him of mocking the proceedings, which he denied.


Bidve and his friends were en route from their hotel in Salford, where they had spent Christmas, to Manchester city centre in the early hours of Boxing Day for the sales. They were approached by Stapleton, who was with his friend Ryan Holden, and the killer asked them the time.


One of the group said it was 1.30am and, without warning, Stapleton produced a gun from his pocket, put it to Bidve's head and fired a fatal shot. As his victim fell to the ground, Stapleton ran off, smirking or laughing.


Bidve, a postgraduate electronics student at Lancaster University, and his eight friends from India and Pakistan, had considered going to Edinburgh or Glasgow for Christmas, but chose Manchester instead.


At a hearing at Manchester crown court on 1 June, Stapleton, from Ordsall, Salford, admitted his involvement in the killing when he pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. But the prosecution rejected his plea and the case proceeded to a murder trial.


The trial was dominated by the issue of diminished responsibility, with psychological and psychiatric evidence presented to the court by various experts. The prosecution case was that Stapleton had intended to kill.


In evidence, Stapleton told the court he "felt nothing" when he realised he had killed somebody. He said his mind went blank and he just turned around and ran. When he saw the news the next day he felt nothing, he said.


He checked into a hotel for one night overlooking the murder scene. Again, he was accused of mocking proceedings by the prosecution when he claimed he booked the room as he wanted to see if there were any "nice women walking past Regent Road". He said his mood at the time of the killing was "normal, calm". He claimed he never thought about it again.


Prof Nigel Eastman, a forensic psychiatrist, said he was worried about Stapleton as he displayed a lack of feelings. Eastman said he was rarely made anxious by prisoners. "I had three officers outside, I'm long in the tooth, but there was something going on I was a bit concerned about at one point," he said. "The defendant did not display an ability to think about emotions … it's a disability of feeling and emotion." In contrast, Holden was a gibbering wreck after the killing.


Holden told police he was afraid for his own safety and that of his family, but began to answer questions after he was given assurances by police. His status changed from suspect to prosecution witness.


Stapleton had been in a relationship with Holden's cousin and had a child with her, but they had split up. In the hours before the shooting, the pair were drinking with friends. When someone claimed she had been unfaithful, Stapleton became angry and said: "If I see him, I'll kill him." Holden said he had not known his friend had a gun until the fatal shot was fired.


Bidve's parents, Subhash and Yogini, had travelled from their home in Pune, India, for the trial and watched proceedings from court one.


Anuj's father said that Stapleton had tried to evade responsibility for the murder and blame Holden. "The jury decided that his final plan of diminished responsibility was another failed exercise and, in fact, concluded that he had carried out the brutal and totally unnecessary murder of Anuj.


"Our son, Anuj, was the kindest and most genuine person on this earth. He knew the difference between right and wrong and lived his life the right way. Kiaran Stapleton is the complete opposite and yet he is the one who is still alive and our son is dead," he said.


"These journeys from India have been exceedingly difficult for us, however they have been made slightly easier by the support of Greater Manchester police and in particular our dedicated family liaison officers … We will now return to India, far sadder, and will take with us only the memories of our beloved son Anuj."


Assistant Chief Constable Dawn Copley, of Greater Manchester police, said: "Subhash and Yogini Bidve worked incredibly hard to send their son Anuj to England so he could get a good education. However, their dreams were shattered because of the brutal and callous actions of Kiaran Stapleton." She said the most important thing was his parents were there to "see their son's killer brought to justice".


Her colleague, Detective Chief Superintendent Mary Doyle, who led the murder inquiry, said the teardrop tattoo had been "some sort of boast or badge of honour". She said: "Such a cold and brazen act tells its own story about what sort of man he is. However, he did not get away with it and today he has been brought to justice."


Stapleton was arrested on 29 December at a house in Leigh, where he was hiding out. Police established that on 28 December he had a teardrop tattooed on the side of his face. When in custody, he claimed he got it because he killed his hamster.


Lancaster University's vice-chancellor, Prof Mark E Smith, said they remembered Anuj Bidve as an outstanding student at the start of a very promising career.


He extended the university's deepest sympathies to his family for their "terrible and lasting loss". The university has set up an annual Anuj Bidve memorial scholarship in his name that will fund a student from the University of Pune in India to go to Lancaster and study for an MSc in the engineering department.


Stapleton will be sentenced on Friday at 11am at Manchester crown court.

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