Judge jails killer who threatened him

Preston and Leyland Citizen: Judge Peter Openshaw Buy this photo Judge Peter Openshaw

A judge whose own father was murdered by a defendant he locked up in 1968 has jailed a killer who threatened to escape and kill him.

Judge William Openshaw, of Broughton, Preston, was stabbed to death in 1981 by John Smith 13 years after he had sent him to borstal for stealing.

At Liverpool Crown Court today the judge’s son, Mr Justice Openshaw, sentenced murderer Daniel Breaks, of Halville Road, Allerton, to 30 years just 24 hours after Breaks promised to escape custody and kill him.

Hearing the threat Mr Justice Openshaw had turned to the jury and said he doubted that would happen.

Breaks’ chilling threat echoed the tragic death of the judge’s father, who was stabbed 12 times in the head, neck and back.

Smith, 31, was locked up for only 18 months when he was 17 but had become “full of hate and hell-bent on settling an old score”, according to The Law’s Strangest Cases by Peter J Seddon.

Smith, who was convicted of the murder at Leeds Crown Court in November 1981, had hidden in the rafters of the judge’s garage.

When he opened the door to get in his car, Smith dropped from the roof and launched the attack, which was disturbed by the judge’s wife.

When police asked him why he killed the judge, Smith was said to have replied: “Because he was a bastard.”

On Tuesday, Mr Justice Openshaw ensured that Breaks, 48, will not be eligible for parole until he is 78 for battering his sister’s boyfriend Simon Sutton, 40, to death last year.

In another odd similarity, Breaks kidnapped an elderly couple at knifepoint after the murder.

Smith, fleeing the judge’s killing scene, also kidnapped a man at knifepoint and forced him to drive to Scotland.

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