Unforgivable cruelty as Hawkins jailed for life
Mar 6 2008 by Neil Atkinson, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
IT was one of the most sickening of crimes.
The murder of a child is always appalling; the death of Ryan Hawkins even more so.
The four-year-old with a mischievous grin died at the hands of his own father.
And it was only by luck that Ryan’s sister Donna escaped with her life after a frenzied knife attack by Christopher Hawkins.
The 47-year-old inflicted at least 13 knife wounds on Donna on a quiet Sunday lunchtime at his terrace home in Royd Street, Hill Top, Slaithwaite.
And as she staggered into the street seeking help he turned his attention to Ryan, who was lying on a couch.
The boy, a regular visitor to his father’s home since his mum and dad separated, died beneath a rain of knife blows to his head and body.
One can only imagine the horror as neighbours and rescuers arrived at the scene minutes later.
Shopkeeper Waqar Zaman and assistant Michelle White raced across the road from their village shop to help the stricken Donna.
Their first-aid efforts before paramedics arrived undoubtedly saved Donna’s life and she was able to leave hospital after a few days.
But no-one could help little Ryan.
Hawkins – well-known as a heavy drinker in the pubs and clubs of Slaithwaite – claimed in court that he was mentally ill.
His defence team argued that he suffered from a personality disorder.
The break-up of his relationship with wife Valerie was a move too far.
She had started an affair with a work colleague, Lee Tinker, a driver at the taxi office where she worked, and it seemed likely that the children would be with her and her new lover.
During the eight-day trial the court heard how Hawkins attacked his children before going to his local pub, covered in blood and ordering a pint.
He then admitted his crimes to the police, but claimed that he was “mentally insane” at the time.
Hawkins launched the attack on September 23 last year – just one week after Ryan’s fourth birthday – after Donna arrived to pick up her brother, who had been staying with his father for the weekend at the house in Royd Street.
The jury of five men and seven women were told that sheet metal worker Hawkins and his wife had separated in May after she told him she no longer loved him.
He later discovered that she had begun an affair with Mr Tinker, who she met at her uncle’s cab firm where she worked, while they were still living together.
Hawkins was described as being “extremely unhappy” about the relationship.
The day before the attack would have been his 17th wedding anniversary.
Donna told the court how, as she tried to leave the house, her father apologised to her before stabbing her at least 13 times.
She said: “He turned around and said ‘I’m sorry’ and he just looked proper weird, angry, and I saw the knife and then he just went for me.
“He was stabbing me and I was telling him to stop and he just did it again and again. I was on the floor.”
He stopped the attack when she told him she did not hate him but then he turned his attention to Ryan, as Donna escaped bleeding into the street.
Donna told police her father then said: “I’m going to kill Ryan now.”
Simon Myerson QC, prosecuting, said: “The defendant did this because he was angry at Valerie Hawkins for leaving him and taking the children away.
“He simply lost his temper; he did what he wanted to do, he didn’t think about Ryan or Donna. He only thought about getting back at her.”
Donna suffered multiple injuries to her face, chest, abdomen, arm and thigh. Two of the wounds penetrated her abdomen with sufficient force to also penetrate her liver and one deflated her lung.
Hawkins had also “cut a chunk” out of his daughter’s right arm.
Mr Myerson said Donna’s chest wounds would have killed her if it were not for the first aid she received from Mr Zaman and Mrs White in the street.
Ryan’s body was found on the sofa in the house and although paramedics tried resuscitation he was pronounced dead at hospital a short time later.
He had been stabbed nine times. He was killed by wounds to his chest, two of which had penetrated his heart.
After stabbing his children Hawkins went to his local pub, The Silent Woman, with blood all over his forearms.
It was a pub that he and Valerie had managed years earlier, in happier times.
He ordered a pint and told another pub customer he had stabbed his children. When he was arrested by the police, he admitted what he had done.
Mr Myerson said: “The defendant said: ‘I will commit suicide for what I’ve done. I’ve stabbed my son and my daughter. Why did I do it? Why? Because my wife is having an affair and I took it out on them. I will admit I’ve stabbed them.’ ”
Hawkins denied the charges of murder and attempted murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility, claiming that he was suffering from an “abnormality of mind”.
Giving evidence during the trial he said: “It wasn’t me that day. It was like some evil inside me.
“I knew nothing of what I was doing.”
He added: “I must have been insane. If I was sane that day Ryan would be here now and my daughter would not have those horrific scars.”
The court heard that Hawkins wrote a series of notes describing his anger at finding out his wife was having an affair and one which stated he and Ryan would die on September 16, Ryan’s fourth birthday.
Hawkins accepted the notes were in his handwriting but said he had no recollection of making them.
He said he was angry and upset about his wife’s relationship with Mr Tinker and said he was drinking heavily in the weeks before the attack, up to 20 pints a day on some occasions.
The court heard that Hawkins had a special bond with Ryan.
He said: “He was the perfect son. I couldn’t have asked for a better son, more loving son.”
We have been asked to make it clear that a note to Mrs Gee from Hawkins was found by police after his arrest and never posted.