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Killer struck just days after leaving Bermuda

A Bermuda resident who killed his stepfather after a smouldering family dispute erupted in violence has been jailed for 11 years.

Nathan Vaughan-Jones lost control and stabbed 63-year-old Nigel Ross 41 times in the garden of a house near Lewes, East Sussex, UK, in March last year.

A judge said on Thursday Vaughan-Jones had taken out the knife and used it “with considerable ferocity and severe force”.

The 34-year-old, who had been living in Bermuda with his wife Vikki and was staying with his sister Natasha at the house in South Chailey, admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Judge Michael Lawson QC accepted that Vaughan-Jones, who suffered from a virulent form of myalgic encephalomyelitis and depression, was normally a gentle, generous and decent man.

Maidstone Crown Court in Kent heard there had been long-running disputes between Natasha and Mr Ross, who was described as being controlling.

Prosecutor Julia Etherton QC said the emergency services were called to the house on March 29 and found Mr Ross with multiple wounds to his body and face. He died at the scene.

Vaughan-Jones was next to him. He had blood on his hands and clothes. A kitchen knife with a 13in blade was found nearby.

He told police: “I didn’t mean to kill him. I didn’t want to attack him. I just wanted to threaten him.”

Vaughan-Jones added he had the weapon to scare the victim away and leave his sister’s home.

“He said his memory of events before and after the killing were patchy,” said Miss Etherton. “He could recall bringing the knife out of his pocket in order to frighten Mr Ross.

“He said Mr Ross grabbed him and threatened him. He (Vaughan-Jones) told him: ‘You have got to stop. You are being too aggressive with my sister. You are destroying lives.’”

He said the next 20 seconds were a blur. “I completely lost control,” he said. “I stabbed him repeatedly.”

Miss Etherton said Vaughan-Jones checked his stepfather’s pulse and when he heard his last breath knew he was dead.

A post-mortem examination found there were 41 wounds, 21 of which were the most serious. Some were defensive injuries.

“The Crown say the violence in this case was appalling,” said the QC. “His suffering and fear must have been in the extreme.”

She added the decision to accept Vaughan-Jones’s plea to manslaughter was reached with some difficulty.

Vaughan-Jones had returned from Bermuda to seek help on the NHS as he did not have health insurance for expensive treatment on the Island.

Judge Lawson said he accepted Vaughan-Jones had behaved in a way he would not normally behave.

“The fact is you did behave in that way and a man has lost his life,” he said.

Vaughan-Jones, he said, had gone to Bermuda thinking it would improve his health. For a while, it appeared to have done so but in the run up to the killing his health was deteriorating.

“You had to return for financial reasons and it interrupted what was becoming in Bermuda rewarding work there for other people,” said the judge.

“I doubt you came to England realising how difficult the situation was. If I described it as being intolerable intensity that week, I doubt you would disagree.”

But the judge said the decision to take the knife into the garden was a deliberate act.

“It was withdrawn and it was used with considerable ferocity and severe force.”

He continued. “There were no less than 21 serious stab wounds and 20 further cuts.”

Vaughan-Jones wrote a letter to the judge saying: “I have always believed there can never be any justification for taking a human being’s life. Irrespective of my stepfather’s behaviour, no man deserves to die in such a way.”

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Published March 23, 2012 at 10:00 am (Updated March 23, 2012 at 10:11 am)

Killer struck just days after leaving Bermuda

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