A killer who was on day release from Springhill Prison in Grendon Underwood has been sentenced to life in jail for murdering a Good Samaritan.
Ian McLoughlin, 55, admitted murdering Graham Buck, 66, in Little Gaddesden in July.
Mr Buck had his throat ‘slashed wide open’ after going to help his neighbour, Francis Cory-Wright, 86, who McLoughlin was robbing.
McLoughlin was told he must serve a minimum term of 40 years for the killing.
He was previously sentenced to 10 years in prison for manslaughter in 1984, reduced to eight on appeal, and to life with a minimum term of 14 years for murder in 1992.
The Old Bailey also heard he had a series of minor convictions dating back to 1970 when he was just 13.
In his summing up, Mr Justice Sweeney said no sentence he could impose would reflect the ‘pain and suffering that you have so needlessly inflicted on his family’.
He read out a victim statement by Mr Buck’s wife Karen.
It said; “Unfortunately Graham surprised someone in the middle of something but there was no need to kill him.
“He was not a big man, he could just have been pushed over or knocked out.”
She described Mr Buck’s murder as ‘the most vicious act of cowardice possible’, adding: “I will never forget that moment of the disbelief, shock and horror when I was told he had been murdered.”
McLoughlin told the court he had no regrets about his robbery bid, but said he was sorry about Mr Buck’s fate.
After being given a lift to Hemel Hempstead from prison on July 13, McLoughlin travelled to Little Gaddesden where he intended to meet Cory-Wright.
The pair had met in Little Hay prison where Cory-Wright was serving a 30-month prison sentence for child abuse in the 1970s.
Cory-Wright let McLoughlin into his home, where McLoughlin asked him for £850.
When Cory-Wright refused, having already given him £400, McLoughlin seized him from behind.
The court heard that McLoughlin said to him: “I hate doing this to you, I do not want to hurt you, but I want to know where you keep your gold and silver.”
He tied him to a bed but as McLoughlin searched the house Cory-Wright managed to untie himself, ran to a window and called to Mr Buck, who lived two doors down.
Cory-Wright told Mr Buck to get the police as a murderer was in the house, but not to come in as he did not want to lure Mr Buck into a danger.
But another neighbour, Colin Fraser, told how he saw the two men grappling on Cory-Wright’s drive – McLoughlin appeared to be dragging Mr Buck towards the kitchen, he said.
Mr Buck later left the house with blood pouring from a throat wound.
Mr Fraser described the slash as wide enough to put his fist in.
Mortally wounded, Mr Buck ran to his own garden but died with his dog by his side.
McLoughlin escaped with an estimated £1,200 he had found in one of Cory-Wright’s cupboards and used it to fund gambling and drink until his arrest four days later.
Det Insp Martin Brunning from the Beds, Cambs and Herts Major Crime Unit said: “This was a horrific crime during which an innocent person lost their life. Mr Buck’s actions were totally selfless and illustrate a deep sense of community spirit which deserves recognition and respect.
“Mr Buck was a devoted husband, father and grandfather and has been described as a man who would help anyone in need, with a strong sense of doing the right thing.
“Our thoughts are with Graham’s family at this time. No one should lose a loved one in these circumstances but I hope that today’s verdict will be of some comfort to them.
“I would like to thank them for their support and dignity in what has been an extremely traumatic time for them. I would also like to thank the community for their understanding and support.
“As a result of a very determined policing effort we were able to apprehend Ian McLoughlin. The Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit work relentlessly to pursue criminals who commit these crimes and I would like to thank all those involved, including colleagues in the Metropolitan Police, for their support and professionalism in dealing with this case and bringing Graham’s killer to justice.”
Ruth Bowskill of the Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service added: “Mr Buck, who had gone to the aid of his elderly neighbour, Francis Cory-Wright, after he heard cries for help, had the misfortune to come across Ian McLoughlin.
“We know that the robbery of Mr Cory-Wright was motivated by greed and that McLoughlin is an extremely dangerous man, but we may never know why McLoughlin murdered Mr Buck, who was an extremely selfless man.
“We have worked closely with Major Crime Unit since this investigation was launched. The overwhelming evidence against McLoughlin has led to his guilty pleas today.
“This case represents a tragedy for the family of Mr Buck. The victim, who was married with children and grandchildren, was brutally murdered in an unprovoked attack just yards from his home.
“His family, friends, and the community have been devastated by his untimely death.
“As a result of the hard work and diligence of the prosecution team, a just outcome has been achieved.
“We know that nothing will bring Mr Buck back to his family, but we hope that today’s conviction and sentence brings them at least a small sense that justice has been done. Our thoughts are very much with them at this time.”