'Sadistic' killer who stabbed journalist to death dies

‘Sadistic’ killer who stabbed journalist to death in a ‘ghastly’ attack with his teenage girlfriend dies in prison with Covid

  • Lee Whiteley, 41, was serving a life sentence for the murder of Peter England 
  • He died on Monday after being rushed to a nearby hospital from HMP Stocken
  • Whiteley tested positive for Covid-19 and reportedly suffered a heart attack 

A ‘sadistic’ killer who stabbed a journalist to death as part of a ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ style duo has died after suffering a heart attack linked to catching Covid-19. 

Lee Whiteley, 41, who was jailed for life for the murder of Fleet Street reporter Peter England, 54, in November 2002, died on Monday. 

He was rushed to hospital from HMP Stocken near Oakham in Rutland, East Midlands, after testing positive for coronavirus and suffering trouble with his breathing.

It is understood he suffered a heart attack while being treated and died shortly before midnight on March 1. 

A Prison Service spokesperson said: ‘HMP Stocken prisoner Lee Whiteley died in hospital on March 1. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has been informed.’ 

The Prison Service said it could not confirm the cause of death, which was a matter for the coroner.    

Lee Whiteley (left) and his girlfriend Deborah Taylor (right), then 17, had stabbed Peter England at least 34 times during a New Year’s Eve party at the victim’s Stockport flat in 2001

Whiteley and his girlfriend Deborah Taylor, then 17, had stabbed Mr England at least 34 times during a New Year’s Eve party at the victim’s Stockport flat in 2001.  

The pair, who likened themselves to US killers Bonnie and Clyde, fled after the body was found on January 6 and were arrested at a Gretna Green guesthouse on January 14.

They were found guilty of murder in November 2002 after a trial at Manchester Crown Court, in which they both blamed each other for the killing.

Whiteley, of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was handed a minimum term of 14-years.

Taylor, from Stockport, Greater Manchester, was detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure with a recommendation she serve 15 years before she becomes eligible for parole. 

Mr England was stabbed dozens of times in the face and body in a ‘ghastly and sadistic’ murder after he invited the pair into his Stockport flat on December 31, 2001.

At the trial, where Whiteley and Taylor both denied murder, the court heard the couple had accepted drinks, cigarettes and food from the Daily Mail journalist.  

However, Whiteley later launched the fatal attack on his victim, after claiming he had ‘tried it on’ with the teenager. 

It is understood Whiteley, who was serving time at HMP Stocken (pictured), suffered a heart attack while being treated and died shortly before midnight on March 1

Taylor admitted during the trial she had made up a claim that she had stabbed the victim after waking up in his flat to find the man sexually assaulting her.

Whiteley, then 23, admitted to the jury he had cut Mr England’s throat during the struggle at the flat in Hazel Grove.

However, he claimed that although he stabbed Mr England, he was already dead from wounds inflicted by Taylor.

Taylor told the jury there was ‘no truth whatsoever’ in the story that she murdered Mr England, who was working as a radio journalist at the time. 

She said: ‘I was prepared to take the blame for something he had done because I loved him.’  

The court heard the Whiteley and Taylor were on the run from police at the time of the attack, wanted over two knife point robberies in shops in the previous 10 days. 

Mr Justice Sachs told the pair: ‘He (Mr England) was slaughtered. Nobody, but nobody, should die a death like this and for the most pathetic motives.

‘I regard each of you as equally responsible and I regard each of you as equally dangerous.’

The judge added the killing was ‘ghastly and sadistic’. 

Taylor was fascinated by violence and obsessed with crime and the desire to be famous, the court heard.

She repeatedly watched films like Thelma and Louise, the violent Romper Stomper and the bloodthirsty Natural Born Killers.

The teenager was also a devoted fan of punk rocker Sid Vicious from the Sex Pistols, who stabbed his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, to death before killing himself.

After the killing, Whiteley and Taylor, who had only known each other for six weeks, eloped and went on a spending spree with Mr England’s credit cards.

Taylor had told a friend they were on the run ‘just like Bonnie and Clyde’.

The teenager took up charity work while in jail and studied for a degree in psychology.

As a result, because of her ‘exceptional progress’ in prison, a High Court judge cut her minimum term to 12 years and nine months.

This meant she could apply for release on parole in early 2015.

Taylor is believed to have been released from and will remain on perpetual ‘life licence’, subject to prison recall if she ever puts a foot wrong.

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