31-year-old Sheffield man Andrew Hague has been sentenced to prison for at least 17 years after murdering his neighbour with a bag full of Pokemon cards.
Hague provoked his neighbour Simon Wilkinson into an altercation, saying, “Come out here and fight like a man”. Prosecutor Laura Marshall says that the two had several arguments in the past, with Hague claiming that Wilkinson called him a “fucking nonce” prior to the attack (nonce being English slang for paedophile).
After shouting at Wilkinson to fight, witnesses say Hague swung a bag of Pokemon cards (which the BBC reports were in tins) “like a cricketer” until Wilkinson was left lying lifeless on the ground. Hague then punched and stamped on Wilkinson before hitting him with a wooden plank “numerous times”.
ITV reports that Judge Sarah Wright said Hague didn’t set out to kill Wilkinson but that he did think it was an “act of mercy”. However, after his arrest, he told police that he “felt bad” and returned to the scene of the crime to try and end his own life. Wright also stated that the attack was “ferocious and brutal”, thus landing Hague a life sentence with a minimum of 17 years.
Wilkinson was a 50-year-old father-of-one, who friends and family described as “a friendly and funny man”. His daughter had just turned 18. Detective Inspector John Fitzgibbons added, “No sentence passed can ease the grief and pain that Mr Wilkinson’s family and friends have faced daily since he was murdered, but I hope that with the conclusion of our investigation and legal proceedings today they feel that they now have some justice for their loved one.”
Hague suffered from a mental disorder and reportedly had a history of contact with mental health services, but prior to the attack, he had stopped taking his medication and instead self-medicated with weed and alcohol. The judge argues that this is a “stark reminder” of the danger of cannabis in these circumstances, and advises that he be readmitted to Rampton secure hospital where he has been treated since his arrest.
Hague’s barrister Andrew Vaut KC said that, while Hague’s illness did not see diminished responsibility or claim of insanity work for the defence, that it was a “significant factor” in Wilkinson’s death.
Wilkinson’s mother added that “Simon has been taken from us by what I would describe as pure evil”, labelling the attack “barbaric and brutal”. She says that Wilkinson’s murder has “left a hole in our hearts which will never heal”.