A 53-year-old man who murdered a neighbour and stabbed her elderly aunt multiple times 32 years ago has been given a life sentence by the Royal Court.
Rickie Tregaskis – who is already serving a life sentence for murdering a man in Cornwall in 1997 – was described as an extremely violent man who had told people that it felt good and satisfying to kill someone with his bare hands.
Today, he was sentenced for murdering Barbara Griffin, who was 59 at the time of her death, and the attempted murder of her 84-year-old aunt, Emma Anton on 2 August 1990 when he was 21 years old. Tregaskis was found guilty of both charges by a jury in May following an eight-day trial.
He will have to serve a minimum of 20 years before he can be released.
Mrs Griffin died from a single stab to the heart when she had confronted Tregaskis – who had broken into her Le Geyt flat by climbing through a bathroom window – while he was stabbing Mrs Anton in a “frenzied attack” while he was pinning her down on her bed.
Tregaskis had faced a trial for the 1990 killing and attempted murder a year later, but he was acquitted when a key witness, who had said Tregaskis had confessed to him, ran away to Scotland on the eve of the trial, leaving the prosecution to present a case based solely on circumstantial evidence.
There was no forensic evidence linking to Tregaskis to the crime found at the scene.
Pictured: Solicitor-General Matthew Jowitt prosecuted the case.
But that witness and another former associate of Tregaskis changed their minds after Tregaskis’s conviction for the Cornwall murder, feeling remorse that they could have prevented it had Tregaskis been locked up in 1991.
Other witnesses also came forward to either say that Tregaskis had confessed to the crimes to them. Another said that they were now sure that they had seen him escaping the scene at Le Geyt Flats 32 years ago.
The rules also changed after 1991 to allow the Court of Appeal to quash an acquittal if compelling new evidence came to light.
Solicitor-General Matthew Jowitt, prosecuting said: “The defendant has 139 criminal convictions dating back to 1982, including a previous conviction for murder, and a number of offences of serious violence.
“His criminal record indicates that he possesses a propensity for extreme, explosive and lethal violence.”
He added: “On the evidence it does not appear to the Crown that this was a burglary gone wrong, but that there was a degree of premeditation.
“The frenzy with which the Defendant first attacked Miss Anton, and the even more targeted and clinical aggression with which he despatched Barbara Griffin, are not consistent with a burglary gone wrong.
“Had he genuinely disturbed Miss Anton from sleep whilst seeking merely to steal he would have been able in the darkness to make a quick escape with comparative ease.
“Miss Anton’s evidence, to the contrary, was that he was on top of her before she had barely stirred from her sleep, much less sat up and challenged him.
“That is consistent with a desire formed from an earlier point to kill the occupant of that front bedroom, even as she slept. And by their guilty verdict the jury were sure that he did indeed intend to kill her.
“In addition, he later confessed to his sister that he had ‘made it look like a burglary gone wrong’, which indicates a degree of pre-planning.
“If it was meant only to wear the appearance of a burglary gone wrong, then the defendant was necessarily admitting that that was a cover for his true intention.
“The inference to draw was that the true intention which he sought to disguise was an intention to attack the occupant of Flat 130.”
He concluded: “This case concerns the killing and attempted killing of two women during the course of a domestic burglary in the dead of night.
“The victims were asleep at home, their supposed place of safety when the defendant broke in through the bathroom window and went on to attack them with a knife.
“The violence afflicted upon them must have been terrifying and the consequences were certainly devastating and life changing for the family of Mrs Griffin.
“The defendant maintains his innocence and shows no remorse, and it has taken 32 years for justice to be done.”
Defending Tregaskis, Advocate Rebecca Morley-Kirk said that there was no firm evidence that the attacks had been premeditated.
She added that the issue of ‘proportionality’ needed to be taken into account, which meant that the sentencing Jurats should consider the fact that her client was already serving a life sentence for the murder in Cornwall.
She also highlighted Tregaskis’s poor health – he is wheelchair-bound and requires daily care – so there were grounds for the Court to show compassion to ensure that he did would not die in prison.
Taking all mitigation together, Advocate Morley-Kirk argued that the minimum sentence set by the court should not be the 30 years proposed by the prosecution but 25 years, which would have been the length if Tregaskis would have been sentenced in 1991 at his first trial.
Commissioner Sir John Saunders was sitting with Jurats Jerry Ramsden, Pamela Pitman, Robert Christensen, Elizabeth Anne Dulake, Steven Austin-Vautier, Kim Averty, Gareth Hughes and David Le Heuzé.
Senior Investigating Officer, Lee Turner, who led the cold case investigation, commented after the sentencing: “Over the years that this investigation took place, Barbara and Emma’s families have demonstrated patience, understanding and support to the police for which I’m extremely grateful, and I’m pleased that today’s sentence may help to begin their own healing process.
“I’d like to personally express my sincere gratitude to the witnesses who testified recently, for their courage in supporting the investigation and for facing the ordeal of giving evidence in court, and to the invaluable input and support of my colleague Clyde Till who has worked alongside me throughout the entirety of this re-investigation, and without whom this outcome may very well have been different.
"I also want to express recognition and gratitude to the original investigation team in 1990 who worked so hard to try and get justice for Barbara and Emma, and whose efforts provided a solid platform on which this re-investigation could build and develop, some of those officers sadly no longer being with us to see this conclusion.”
Express sat down with Senior Investigator Lee Turner to discuss what made Rickie Tregaskis's eventual conviction possible...
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