Thursday, April 19, 2007

Terry McMaster, Karen Fathers and Edward Doyle

Tortured and killed an autistic man.

Click HERE for the story from

A gang of killers have been jailed for life for the 'callous and cruel' torture and murder of a vulnerable man they mistakenly thought was a paedophile.

Edward Doyle, 34, was yesterday described as the prime mover in the killing of Sean Miles, a 37-year-old with autism, after a jury at Oxford Crown Court found him guilty of murder. Terry McMaster, 24, and Karen Fathers, 35, were also found guilty of murdering Mr Miles who was beaten, knifed in the head and then drowned in the Thames last May amid allegations he was a paedophile.

The jury had heard how the killers watched as Mr Miles floundered in the river. He was poked with a stick to stop him getting out before he drowned.

Co-defendant Tracey Fathers, 35, was set free after the jury found her not guilty of murder or manslaughter.

Sentencing all three to life, Judge Julian Hall said: "This was a particularly heartless and cruel murder. Your victim was extremely vulnerable with a very low IQ, autistic, disadvantaged and thought anyone who spoke to him was his friend."

Last May, Mr Miles was tricked by Karen Fathers into leaving his home at Herschel Crescent in Littlemore, Oxford, and subjected to a vicious assault by Doyle, Judge Hall said. Doyle beat Mr Miles with a golf club until it bent, fracturing his rib, and all three continued the humiliation and violence by stripping him naked and drowning him in the Thames, he added. Judge Hall said: "Each of you played a part in that. Not one of you lifted a finger to help him, nor did you summon help, nor did you report him missing. "Then you Doyle, in a characteristically devious way, tried to put the blame on others. I find you to be the prime mover in this murder. "McMaster and Fathers you were followers, but willing. "All of you suffer from the disadvantage of your low intellectual ability. I find there are aggravating factors in the violence and humiliation before the fatal act committed against a most vulnerable man."

Doyle, McMaster and Fathers - all from Alice Smith Square in Littlemore - must serve at least 17, 15 and 14 years in jail respectively.

After the verdict, Mr Miles's father Stanley described his son as a kind and gentle person. Stanley Miles said: "Sean was a kind, gentle, loving person who died violently. He would not knowingly have hurt anyone or anything. Life is so unfair. He was too trusting for this world. "We all miss him very much, and can only hope he's at least safe and happy where he is now."

Outside court, Det Sgt Tony Collingwood said: "Sean Miles's murder was clearly pre-planned and callous to the extreme. "He was lonely and craved friendship. Eddie Doyle, Terry McMaster and Karen Fathers abused that friendship and trust. "Sean's life reached a tragic end after several hours of abuse."

Tracey Fathers, also from Alice Smith Square, walked free from court into a waiting taxi, but did not want to comment. A spokesman for her said: "This is clearly the right result. She has nothing to say and would ask for her privacy to be respected as it has been a difficult time for her."

Neighbours of Edward Doyle were not surprised he was the driving force behind the horrific torture and murder of Sean Miles. They used the words "psychopath" and "monster" as they described a man who had made their lives hell in Littlemore. There was a sense of relief that Doyle had been caged for life, with a minimum sentence of 17 years. One neighbour in Alice Smith Square said: "He could be charming, but he was absolutely frightening as well. "I felt intimidated by Eddie. It was usually when he had had a drink - that's when it was worse and the music would be blaring in his flat late into the night."

Another 44-year-old neighbour said he had initially tried to make friends with Doyle, but quickly saw a darker side. He said: "Doyle was an alcoholic, a psychopath, a monster. He made my life hell. "I went round to his flat a couple of times and once he grabbed a baseball bat and a cricket bat and started swinging them around. "Eddie Doyle's behaviour was the most frightening thing I have experienced. I was scared. "Ever since he was arrested for this murder it has been brilliant down here, nice and quiet. "I wasn't surprised when I heard what he had done."

Karen and Tracey Fathers shared a house together around the corner from Doyle and next to their mother in Alice Smith Square. Margaret Turner, 49, who lived opposite Karen Fathers in Alice Smith Square, said: "Sometimes she could be nasty and sometimes we would get on all right. "I think it was disgusting what they did to Sean."

Another neighbour said: "They could have walked away at any time. How anyone could stand and watch that is beyond me."

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