7 Apr 2014

Life for former army man who tortured two estate agents

A 26-year-old former army officer was today sentenced to a minimum of 34 years in jail after admitting he murdered a York estate agent and seriously injured her flatmate.

Jeremy Peter Andrew Green held Nicole Waterhouse – known as Nikki to her family – and Karen Browne hostage at their flat in the city for over eight hours on 20 October last year. Ms Waterhouse died from her injuries and Ms Browne was left seriously injured.

At Leeds crown court, the recorder of Leeds, Peter Collier QC, sentenced Green to 34 years for Ms Waterhouse’s murder and 24 years concurrently for the attempted murder of Karen Browne.

Eight-hour ordeal

The court heard how Ms Waterhouse and Ms Browne, who worked together at Hunters estate agents, were in the flat they shared in Phoenix Boulevard in the city when they were attacked last October.

The judge heard how Ms Waterhouse suffered 65 injuries, including damage to her spinal cord, after being stabbed, smothered and attacked with a bottle. Her former colleague Karen Browne has been left permanently disabled and, in a victim impact statement, said she’d been told the left-hand side of her body “will never recover”.

Ms Browne, 24, had gone on some dates with Green after they met at a dating event in the city, which both women attended. But their relationship had fizzled out before Green contacted her in October 2013, saying he had a DVD for her.

He visited the flat, and though Ms Browne did not invite him in, he later entered the accommodation through an unlocked door.

Ms Browne awoke to find Green in the doorway of her bedroom before he began stabbing her.

She screamed at Nicole Waterhouse to “get out or get help” but Ms Waterhouse instead came to her flatmate’s aid, an act of “selfless bravery” according to prosecutor Peter Moulson QC.

Green stabbed both women multiple times and forced them to give him their mobiles and bank cards, as well as the pin codes to allow him to access their money.

Horrific injuries

Judge Collier heard Ms Browne was left helpless and immobile by Green’s repeated attacks. She was forced to listen as her friend pleaded for leniency while Green attacked her in another bedroom.

Ms Browne eventually recovered sufficiently to give police an account of how she came to suffer an horrific catalogue of injuries at the hands of Green. The ex-soldier cut her throat three times. He tried to smother her with a pillow again and again, and then he tried unsuccessfully to strangle her with a belt.

The soldier put pressure on her injuries to try and make her bleed to death more quickly. Astonishingly, she survived.

Mr Moulson told that Ms Waterhouse was less lucky. She died after suffering 65 injuries, including a spinal damage.

The court heard that Green chatted casually to friends on the phone while he held Ms Waterhouse and Ms Browne hostage, before leaving the flat. He even sent texts to Ms Waterhouse and Ms Browne’s families, assuring them they were safe, using their mobile phones.

After the attack, he walked home, stopping to withdraw £750 from the women’s bank accounts and buy takeway food.

Ms Browne’s screams were eventually heard and Green was quickly arrested by North Yorkshire police.

The prosecutor said Green needed £300 for a rent deposit to be paid the following day and he told police that he needed funds for a forthcoming trip to London. The judge accepted that Green’s motive was to burgle the two flatmates’ property but said he was not wholly convinced Green intended to murder them.

Unanswered question

But the question of why the former officer carried out the murder is likely to remain unanswered.

Richard Wright QC, for Green, said he regretted that the plea would mean the court and the public would not receive an answer as to why his client carried out the attack.

Jeremy Green, a former second lieutenant and a pupil of the £18,000 a year Oakham School, “had many advantages in life”, said Judge Collier in his sentencing remarks. He was, the Judge said, “regarded as a good officer… seen as pleasant and easy going.”

But a year ago, Green was court-martialled for theft. He had stolen personal items from officers, the court heard.

Dismissed from the army, he took out a loan of £10,000 and used it to fund a smart flat in York as well as a “very active social life”.

He went on to appear in the audience of the BBC’s Question Time programme in London just weeks before he would carry out the murder. He spoke on the programme about his army career as part of a discussion about military funding. He posted a picture on his Twitter feed afterwards, showing him posing with panellist Russell Brand.

There was little sign he would go on to commit an appalling act of violence. Green never saw combat in Afghanistan during his time in the army, and eminent psychiatrists who examined him found no condition that would explain his actions.

Sentencing Green, Judge Collier said:

“Your behaviour and reactions with other both during and after committing these dreadful offences is abnormal in its normality… there is no psychiatric condition to explain you behaviour.

“It is also that which in the future will no doubt cause anybody considering your possible release to ponder long and hard as to whether it will ever be safe to release you.”Wearing a dark pinstriped suit and a striped tie in the dock, Mr Green listened as the judge passed sentence on him.

Speaking outside court, Nicole’s father John Waterhouse described the murder as a “cruel, callous and cowardly act of murder”.

Earlier, he and other family members gave emotional victim impact statements. Mr Waterhouse described her as “the sweetest girl you could ever meet” and said he could not go back to the estate agents’ office where he and Nicole used to work because it was the last place he saw his daughter alive.