Teenager who killed Breck Bednar in ‘sadistic’ attack jailed for life
- The Guardian, Monday 12 January 2015 18.27 GMT
A teenager who groomed a 14-year-old boy over the internet before slashing his throat in a “sexual and sadistic” attack has been sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison.
Computer engineer Lewis Daynes, 19, admitted murdering Breck Bednar after luring him to his flat in Grays, Essex, on 17 February last year.
Breck told his parents he was sleeping at a friend’s house near their home in Caterham, Surrey, but secretly travelled to see Daynes after months of talking in an online gaming forum.
It was there that Daynes used duct tape to bind his young victim by his wrists and ankles before knifing him in the throat, causing him to die within seconds.
Prosecutors said there was evidence of sexual activity between the pair shortly before the killing and that afterwards Daynes sent pictures of Breck’s bloodied body to two of his online friends.
Sentencing Daynes at Chelmsford crown court, the judge, Mrs Justice Cox, ordered him to serve life with a minimum of 25 years in prison, meaning he will be at least 44 by the time he is released.
Cox said: “Having lured the young victim to your flat, you murdered him. You had befriended Breck and a number of other adolescent friends through an online community.
“Your contact with Breck increased in a sinister way. The precise details of what happened in your flat are unclear and may never be known. I’m sure that this murder was driven by sadistic or sexual motivation.”
There were serious questions over the police handling of the case as it emerged that Daynes was arrested on suspicion of the rape and sexual assault of a 15-year-old alleged victim three years before he attacked Breck.
These offences were reported to Essex police in 2011 but the force decided not to take any action. They were then re-investigated when Daynes was brought in for questioning over Breck’s murder.
The Guardian revealed in November that Breck’s parents, Barry Bednar and Lorin LaFave, have launched a legal action against Essex and Surrey police forces over their handling of the case. The Independent Police Complaints Commission has also launched investigations into the two forces.
Daynes, who used the online monicker EagleOneSix, befriended Breck in the internet gaming group TeamSpeak in which the 19-year-old was described as the controlling ringmaster.
The pair played war games like Call of Duty and Battlefield for hours, during which Daynes claimed that he worked for the US government and promised Breck “great wealth” through a fictional computer business.
LaFave, 47, a teaching assistant from Michigan, grew increasingly concerned that Daynes was manipulating her son – at one stage she confronted him online – before contacting Surrey police in December 2013 over strong fears that he was being groomed and manipulated by the older man. Despite this report, the family believe no action was taken to prevent Daynes carrying out the killing two months later.
Prosecutor Richard Whittam QC told the court how Daynes bought condoms, duct tape and syringes online in preparation for the attack before giving Breck a false alibi in case his parents asked questions about visiting a friend.
After stabbing the 14-year-old in the neck, Daynes posted pictures of the body to at least two people and circulated news of Breck’s death online.
Daynes then showered and changed his clothes before calling 999, claiming in a calm voice that he had stabbed Breck while trying to stop him from taking his life.
During the call, Daynes claimed he and the 14-year-old had got into an “altercation”, adding: “Only one of us came out alive.”
Outlining his story in a matter-of-fact manner, the controlling killer told the operator: “I grabbed the knife and stabbed him in the back of the neck, I believe somewhere near the brain stem. I don’t remember exactly what happened but the fight ended with me cutting his throat.”
Asked by the operator if he was saying he had killed somebody, he replied simply: “Yes, I am.”
When officers arrived at his home, they found Breck’s body laying in the bedroom. Daynes had submerged his computer equipment in water to destroy evidence.