Double life sentence for racist who killed couple because he thought they were Polish

A racist killer who murdered two people because he wrongly thought they were Polish before confessing what he had done to a waitress was today handed two life sentences.

Austin Brayford. Below: Victim Helen Dawson

Alcoholic Austin Brayford, 37, admitted killing housemate Ivo Spratek, 40, who is actually from the Czech Republic, and his English girlfriend Helen Dawson, 48.

Miss Dawson was found in Brayford’s room in Sawrey Place, Bradford, in the early hours of July 13 having been strangled and had suffered over 30 knife wounds.

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Mr Spratek was repeatedly hit, mostly around the head, with a blunt instrument during a “brutal, sustained and frenzied” attack, Leeds Crown Court heard today.

Victim Helen Dawson

After the killings, Brayford took a train to Blackpool in Lancashire to socialise. He confessed the murders to a waitress as he enjoyed a beer and a burger in Route 66 restaurant before she alerted police.

The court heard that Brayford was acting strangely and when she asked him if everything was OK, referring to the food, Brayford said: “Yeah, I’ve got two dead bodies in my flat though.”

The waitress asked if he had killed them and he said: “Yeah, I did it yeah. You’d understand if you knew them, they were bad people. It’s not like I went out and stabbed them, they were Polish, they were in my flat, they were in my house shouting and screaming so I killed them.”

Prosecuting, Mark McKone, said at 2.20am on July 13 a neighbour heard five or six people arguing, including one with an Eastern European accent.

The two victims had been in a relationship for about two years and although they had separate accommodation they often stayed together at Mr Spratek’s house.

The house share had a number of people from different nationalities, many of them Eastern European and Brayford had lived there for just under nine months. When Mr Spratek’s friend visited his home the next morning he got no response and found him dead, the court heard.

When police arrested Brayford in Blackpool he told them he had buried the bodies. While in custody he said he hated Polish people and they deserved to die.

He said: “They don’t deserve to live in our country. There are too many of them, I hate Polish. Polish people are pains in the a***.”

The court heard that while in custody Brayford told police he felt no guilt and he was going to see his mates in prison.

In his cell he said: “Polish people were making too much noise so I sorted it, they won’t make noise any more. I battered him around his head and I knew she would be a witness so I battered her as well, blood everywhere.”

Brayford was handed two life sentences and will serve a minimum of 30 years before he is eligible for parole. Judge Mr Justice Edis said: “Part of your motivation was your perception that they were Polish.

“They were murders that were racially aggravated. In each case the assault was of extreme brutality, sustained and frenzied.”

Speaking after the case, Miss Dawson’s daughter Becky said: “Austin Brayford is an evil man. He’s left two innocent children without a mum and a little girl without a grandma.”

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendent Simon Atkinson, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “This was a despicable act against two vulnerable individuals, who considered Brayford to be their friend.

“We will never know what caused him to commit such shocking and gratuitous violence, which has left one family without a loving mother and another without a son and brother.

“We would also like to praise the efforts of the member of the public who overheard Brayford talking about what he had done. Her swift actions made sure that police were able to quickly locate and arrest him.

“Brayford has shown no remorse or compassion for the grieving famiilies, in Bradford and in the Czech Republic, by offering an explanation for what he did.

“Today he has been sentenced for his actions, and we hope that this will give the families of Helen and Ivor some comfort.”