Man jailed for ‘sleepwalk’ murder — (BBC News)

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BBC News

A pub manager who claimed he was sleepwalking when he killed his ex-girlfriend has been jailed for life.

Michael Catling, 28, used a seven-inch kitchen knife to stab Samantha Vines, 26, 10 times at her flat in Christchurch, Dorset, in August 2003.

Catling had claimed he had no memory of the attack because he had been abusing sleeping pills and antidepressants.

Experts failed to prove the claim and he pleaded guilty to murder. He was told he must serve 13 and a half years.

Jane Miller QC, prosecuting, at Winchester Crown Court, said Catling had split with Miss Vines but was staying with her when he said they had an argument on the evening of 6 August.

He said he had no memory of what happened after taking the drugs and drinking about 14 pints of strong lager during the day.

After crashing a car with his then 18-month-old daughter inside he went to a police station covered in blood and said someone had attacked Miss Vines in her flat and he had fled.

When police broke in, they found Miss Vines on her bed with the knife sticking out of her and Catling’s handprint in blood on the wall.

‘Out of character’

Michael Wolkind QC, in mitigation, said that rationally Catling had now admitted his guilt but emotionally he was unable to because he could not remember.

After a succession of experiments at Broadmoor and consulting with experts, Catling could find no-one to prove his claim that he had been sleepwalking and he pleaded guilty to murdering university student Miss Vines.

The Recorder of Winchester, Judge Michael Brodrick said that the attack was planned because he believed he had removed his child before attacking her mother while under the influence of the drink and drugs.

“I have no doubt at all that, even though there is a multitude of evidence that your actions were entirely out of character, I am driven to the conclusion that this was a cold blooded, cold calculated, premeditated and planned killing of the innocent mother of your child,” he said.

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‘Sleepwalk’ killer fails in his appeal — (Hertfordshire Mercury)

28 September 2006

A MAN from Bishop’s Stortford who “sleepwalked” when he killed his ex-girlfriend has failed to get his prison term reduced.

Michael Catling cut the throat of Samantha Vines – the mother of his then 18-month-old daughter – and stabbed her 10 times as she slept at her flat in Christchurch, Dorset, in 2003.

The 28-year-old, of Manston Drive, claims he has no memory of the attack because he had been abusing sleeping pills and antidepressants.

However, his defence of “automatism” due to sleepwalking fell down after investigation by experts, and he pleaded guilty to murder at Winchester Crown Court in February.

He was jailed for life with a minimum term of 13 years and one month, less 789 days spent on remand, before he could apply for parole.

His barrister Michael Wolkind QC argued on Friday at London’s Criminal Appeal Court that the minimum was too long.

This week, his family in Bishop’s Stortford declined to speak to the Observer.

Catling, a pub manager at The Inferno, Bournmouth, had split with Miss Vines, 26, but was staying with her when they argued on August 6, 2003.

He said he could not remember what happened after taking antidepressants, sleeping pills and drinking around 14 pints of lager.

Police found her on her bed wearing only knickers, her throat cut, the knife sticking out her left breast and Catling’s bloody hand print on the wall.

In court, Mr Wolkind said rationally, Catling had now admitted his guilt, but emotionally, was unable to because he could not remember anything.

He said the minimum term should have been reduced because Catling was a “mild, soft person”; the murder was not premeditated and the drug on which he overdosed had been linked with “uncharacteristic violent behaviour”.

But Mr Justice Leveson refused the appeal, saying: “This was a cold-blooded, cold, calculated, premeditated and planned killing of the innocent mother of your child.”

Catling knew he shouldn’t have been drinking or overdosing and the judge was entitled to proceed as he did.

After February’s trial, Miss Vine’s mother, Shelagh, said she had forgiven Catling, but the victim’s brother, David, voiced his anger and disappointment at the sentence.

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