Judge tells murderer he showed ‘no remorse’ as he gets life sentence for savage murder of friend at Leeds flat

David Houlgate.
David Houlgate.

A murderer was told he had shown ‘no remorse’ as he was given a life sentence for the brutal killing of his friend in his own flat.

David Houlgate was today told he must serve a minimum of 15 years in prison for the murder of Robert Milner at his flat in Belle Isle, Leeds.

PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Houlgate, 35, was found guilty of murder after a jury heard he subjected his friend to a sustained attack, including stabbing him repeatedly with a screwdriver.

David Houlgate inflicted multiple stab wounds to Robert Milner’s head and body during the incident on March 9 this year.

He then washed blood from himself in the bath and left the flat, taking the CCTV system which covered the address on Lanshaw Crescent

Houlgate, 35, of Bodmin Road, Middleton, Leeds, arranged for his girlfriend to collect him but was later persuaded to dial 999, when he told the operator he thought he had killed someone.

Jurors heard the two men were friends and had been drinking vodka and smoking cannabis together at the time of the incident.

Houlgate pleaded not guilty to murder. He gave evidence at the trial in which he claimed he had acted in self defence when Mr Milner, 41, suddenly attacked him.

Sentencing Houlgate, judge Geoffrey Marson, QC, said: “Something happened which resulted in extreme violence.

“We will never know exactly what it was. But for these purposes I am prepared to accept that the initial aggression came from Robert Milner.

“What form that took I do not know. But it is clear to me that it was of a very limited nature and did not involve a weapon.

“Robert Milner was five foot, ten inches, and weighed just over 11 stone.

“You are six foot, six inches, and at the time weighed 20 stone. It would have been easy for you quickly to overcome any aggression.

“Very shortly after the incident began, no doubt fuelled by alcohol and cannabis, you picked up a Phillips screwdriver and attacked him with it.

“Your attack was brutal, savage and prolonged.

“The attack was of such severity, I am entirely satisfied, that there was a time during the course of this incident that you formed the intention to kill Robert Milner.

“At a time when he was already dead, or at a time when you did not care whether he was dead or not, you went in to the bathroom to wash his blood from your body.

“You did that to protect yourself.”

Judge Marson said Mr Milner’s family had been “torn apart” as a result of his death.

He added: “You have shown no genuine remorse for taking his life.”

After the verdict, Mr Milner’s sister Laura Hodgkinson told the judge his family were “heartbroken” at losing him.

She said: “I will never be able to say goodbye to Robert or say I love him.”

She described Holgate as a coward for not owning up to what he had done, adding: “He has decided to punish us all further by forcing us all to endure the court process.”

Mrs Hodgkinson said her parents had been devastated by their loss. “All this pain caused by one person’s brutal savage attack, by one person Robert believed was his friend,” she added.

Detective Chief Inspector Jim Griffiths, of West Yorkshire Police Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, said: “Houlgate murdered Robert Milner, who was supposed to be his friend, in a brutal and sustained attack. His death was completely unnecessary.

“He then made deliberate attempts to cover up his involvement before leaving the scene.

“Robert’s family have been left absolutely devastated at his death in such sudden and violent circumstances.

“Houlgate has also put them through the added strain of a criminal trial when he could have admitted his guilt.

“We hope the fact he has now had to answer for his actions and will spend a considerable time in prison will provide some small degree of comfort to them.”