Bilston man jailed for life after murdering grandmother

29 October 2018, 12:32 | Updated: 29 October 2018, 12:33

Gregory Irvin

A cocaine-user who murdered his grandmother by cutting her throat and stabbing her more than 40 times in an attack of "extraordinary ferocity" has been branded "evil" in court by his family.

Gregory Irvin, who had a £35,000 gambling debt, stabbed his victim first in the back and then in the chest, after assaulting the pensioner in the kitchen of her home in Walsall, West Midlands. 

Irvin claimed he could not remember the incident at his trial - a fact ruled out as a "lie" by Mrs Justice Nerys Jefford, who described the incident as an attack of the "most extraordinary ferocity and cruelty". 

Flanked by two security officers, Irvin wept quietly in the dock of Birmingham Crown Court on Monday as he was sentenced to life with a minimum of 24 years for the former nurse's killing. 

His victim Mrs James, a church-goer who sold jam for charity and had been happily married for more than 40 years, was "like a lamb to the slaughter", her son Andrew James said in a statement read to court. 

He said: "She 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 lamb to the slaughter." I

rvin, who had a £100-a-week drug habit and a previous conviction for stealing £29,000 of designer gloves from former employer FedEx, was deeply in debt. 

The court heard how the 26-year-old was constantly asking to borrow money from his family and girlfriend, and that Mrs James had already given £1,000 as well as £5,000 towards a car. 

Two days before the killing, Irvin had searched the internet on his phone for "old lady killed, but killer never found". 

The day of the murder, Irvin had woken and immediately texted his mother before 8am about again borrowing money. 

He then tried to get into his grandmother's home in Doveridge Place, Highgate, on the morning of February 28, but she was not at home, having been to the chiropractor and supermarket to buy flowers. 

Later, Irvin, of Bilboe Road, Bilston, West Midlands, returned finding Mrs James cooking soup on the stove, and laying out bread on the kitchen table. 

Mrs Justice Jefford told him: "We'll never know what happened. 

"She may have refused to give you more money and you lost your temper or you may have attempted to steal the money. 

"But what you did next was motivated by money. You took a breadknife she had used and you slit her throat from behind. 

"It severed the carotid artery and jugular vein. She would have collapsed almost immediately. 

"You stabbed her repeatedly in the back and then you turned her over and stabbed her in the chest. 

"You stabbed her over 40 times. It was an attack of the most extraordinary ferocity and cruelty." 

Mrs James, whose husband Jim James had been in hospital at the time, was described by family members as a "wonderful and amazing lady", "supportive" and the family's "matriarch". 

But Irvin's reaction to the killing was "cold and calculating", said the judge, as he removed a kitchen CCTV camera and the victim's mobile phone to cover his tracks. 

After the attack, he "carried on as if nothing happened", visiting his parents, doing the washing up at home, and watched television, before getting a call from family to say his grandmother was dead. 

The judge told Irvin: "You have put your family through the trauma of this trial. 

"You're own mother was too unwell to give evidence. 

"Family members have had to sit in court and hear, over and over, the horror of Anne James' injuries, knowing they were inflicted by one of their own." 

Irvin was linked to the crime by forensics, when blood matching that of Mrs James was found on the killer's jacket and on the accelerator of his Mini. 

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 been bullied at school, sexually assaulted as a child, and had "high-functioning" autistic spectrum disorder, nodded as he was jailed. 

Mr Raggatt, in mitigation, added: "It is a terrible situation for all concerned. It's a true family disaster." 

Irvin, who was convicted after trial on October 19, left the court without looking at the half dozen family members sat just a few feet away in the public gallery.