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Killer, 28, with Asperger's syndrome handed life term

By West Briton  |  Posted: December 27, 2012

  • Somes McFarland

  • Peter Oates.

A POOL man has been sentenced to life for the murder of a Camborne father of two.

Somes McFarland, 28, will serve a minimum of 13 years behind bars before the parole board will consider his release.

He was found guilty of murdering 51-year-old former Camborne roofer, Peter Oates, following a week-long trial at Truro Crown Court earlier this month.

Both men lived at the Henley House hostel in Fore Street in Pool when the violence took place on March 25.

The court heard that Mr Oates, an alcoholic, suffered 19 fractures of the ribs and injuries to his head and neck when McFarland battered him in his room using his hands and feet.

The jury, who heard that McFarland suffers from Asperger's syndrome, rejected a defence submission that at the time he was suffering from diminished responsibility.

His counsel, Simon Laws QC, told the judge on Friday that McFarland had been reluctant to deny the charge of murder.

"He expressed the view that he should be convicted of what he had done and would not be happy with a verdict of manslaughter by diminished responsibility," he said.

"But he accepted the advice of his lawyers and the report by a consultant forensic psychiatrist."

Mr Justice Burnett said that McFarland had been drinking at a family party. He then visited Mr Oates' room where they were drinking, watching television and playing music.

In the early hours he attacked his friend, grabbing him forcefully around the neck and jumping up and down on his chest and inflicting brain damage.

Mr Justice Burnett said he was satisfied that McFarland had not intended to kill Mr Oates, but that his intention was to cause him really serious harm.

The killing was not premeditated, his autism was a feature in his life and he was of previous good character.

The judge also read a statement written by Mr Oates' family which spoke of the impact on his family, particularly his elderly mother, and said they regretted McFarland's apparent lack of remorse for what he had done.

They said they felt that there was no recrimination, but concern for the impact on his own family.

Afterwards his brother Tony Oates, aged 51, added: "Devon and Cornwall Police have been of great support to our family and we appreciate that.

"Our family has been, throughout the trial, in contact with McFarland's family. We have lost someone, but they have also lost someone temporarily. It has been upsetting for both families."

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