Indian student’s laughing killer starts life term

Anuj Bidve was shot in the head at point blank range by Kiaran Stapleton
Anuj Bidve was shot in the head at point blank range by Kiaran Stapleton
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A KILLER who labelled himself “Psycho” after murdering an Indian student was yesterday jailed for life.

Kiaran Stapleton walked up to stranger Anuj Bidve, 23, in the street in Salford and shot him in the head at point blank range.

Stapleton, 21, had admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility but a jury at Manchester Crown Court rejected that argument and convicted him of murder on Thursday. The killer had laughed as he stood over the body of his victim, who he gunned down in the early hours of Boxing Day last year.

He also found amusement in police interviews over the murder and regularly grinned and laughed throughout his five-week murder trial.

Trial judge Mr Justice King told Stapleton he would serve at least 30 years of his life sentence.

The defendant beamed as he came into court for the verdict and again towards a family member as he was led from the dock.

Following the verdict, Mr Bidve’s father Subhash said Stapleton had “openly laughed at the memory of our son”.

He said he believed Stapleton should never be released from prison.

His son had arrived in the UK to study micro-electronics at Lancaster University and was visiting Manchester with a group of friends last Christmas.

Mr Justice King told Stapleton: “In my judgment, this was no impulsive act on your part. It was a piece of cold-blooded controlled aggression.”

He said he had showed a “most callous disregard” in laughing and smirking after he gunned down Mr Bidve and also during the trial.

“You have behaved in a way demonstrating that you are positively boastful about having killed Mr Bidve,” he said.

“By that single act of cruelty you brought about the premature death of a bright young man who had already achieved so much and had so much to look forward to in the future. There was a significant degree of premeditation. Not in the sense that you had already in advance identified Anuj Bidve as the candidate for what you were about to do. When you went out you were fully minded to find a victim to satisfy your desire to shoot and kill someone if you could.”

The only mitigating factor for Stapleton was his age and being brought up in “a disturbed family environment”, the judge said.

Brian Cummings QC, prosecuting, read out extracts from Subhash Bidve’s victim impact statement on behalf of his family. It spoke of the irony of Mr Bidve choosing the UK as a place to study rather than the United States and Australia because the family considered it the safer country.

His father wrote: “Everyone in the family was so proud of him. Anuj was taking all our hopes with him. He was the first Bidve boy to go abroad to study.

“The journey was Anuj’s dream and more importantly his future. He looked like he was loving his course, the only thing he complained about was the weather.

“Our life fell apart on December 26. Anuj was the most gentle person you could ever meet. To shoot him in the street for no reason at all is just incomprehensible.

“We will never recover from this dreadful act.”

Mr Justice King paid tribute to Mr Bidve’s family for the dignified manner they had shown during the trial and said the court “appreciated the anguish” the experience must have caused.

He said he hoped the family and the wider Indian community would come to accept that “this dreadful killing was the act of a single individual who is not representative of the wider community of so many different backgrounds who are resident in this country”.

Following sentencing, senior investigating officer Detective Chief Superintendent Mary Doyle said: “Anuj’s family have got the verdict they deserved. I have spoken to the family and while they remain grief-stricken that nothing can bring Anuj back, they are very pleased Stapleton will not even be eligible for parole until he is in his fifties.

The judge described Stapleton’s actions as “truly wicked”.