A man who carried out the “most brutal” and prolonged killing of a defenceless grandmother in her own home is starting a life sentence today (Friday June 16).

The judge sentencing Alexander Carr at Newcastle Crown Court said he must serve at least 19 years and three months behind bars before being eligible for release by the Parole Board, but added that he may never be released.

Carr, who suffers borderline unstable personality disorders, and has a history of offences of violence and use of weapons, was heavily intoxicated through drink and the taking of skunk cannabis on the night of the killing, late on Thursday December 1 or just into the following morning.

The Northern Echo: Brutally murdered grandmother Michelle Hanson

Read more: Alexander Carr admits murder of Sunderland woman Michelle Hanson

Having been invited into Miss Hanson’s upstairs flat, in Brady Street, Millfield, Sunderland, the mature student shared vodka she had earlier bought, with her.

A relative of Miss Hanson, who visited the flat, described Carr as, “talking nuts” in foreign accents as he swigged vodka from the bottle.

The court heard at some stage after the visitor left, the defendant, who was said to have formed the paranoid belief he was under threat, carried out the attack

Dafydd Enoch KC, prosecuting, said he used a knife or up to three knives from the flat to inflict at least 29 stab wounds, many to the neck, severing carotid arteries and jugular veins, causing Miss Hanson’s death.

But the court heard there was also evidence of blunt force injuries, through punches or slaps, and attempts at asphyxiation.

The Northern Echo:

Carr then fled from the flat via a window, which was found heavily blood-stained, leaving Miss Hanson’s body in situ, face down on the living room floor.

It was not until late morning on December 3 that the relative returned to the flat to discover Miss Hanson's heavily bloodstained body and fled to report his shock discovery to a family member, who informed police.

Carr, meanwhile, who was quickly identified as the prime suspect, went on the run, ignoring pleas by Miss Hanson’s family to hand himself into police.

Although his blood-soaked jacket was later found in his flat, in Wilfred Street, Sunderland, he was at large for two-and-a-half weeks before police located him hiding in a tent on waste ground near Upper Holloway Train Station, in London, on December 21.

He struggled with arresting officers from the Metropolitan Police, who had to use a taser to bring him under control.

A large hunting knife was found in the tent, which Carr said he had with him “for protection”.

When he was subdued, Carr asked the arresting officers: “How did you find me?”.

It emerged he had travelled to London via Lincolnshire, having fled Sunderland.

Carr was initially assessed as to whether or not he was fit to plead, but following the preparation of psychiatric reports by both defence and prosecution sides in the case, it was agreed he did not suffer any underlying psychotic illness, despite his borderline personality disorders.

It was assessed his apparent loss of control on the night of the killing was more down to the voluntary consumption of drink and drugs.

The 33-year-old defendant denied murder but admitted manslaughter, due to lack of intent, at a hearing in April, but it was not accepted by the Crown.

A week before his scheduled trial, last month, it was indicated to the court that he would also plead to murder, which he did on May 19.

The sentence was adjourned until today’s hearing, at which victim impact statements were read to the court by Miss Hanson’s sister, Angela Kelly, and her daughter Shannon Brown.The Northern Echo:

Holding back her tears, Ms Brown said: “My mam was taken in such a vicious and mindless attack.

"We believe that her last moments would have been spent in fear.

“To think she welcomed this evil person into her house as a friend is unbearable.

"He has taken advantage of a vulnerable, kind and loving woman.

“It is horrific to know he towered over her in both height and strength and my mam was defenceless. This is something we must all try and live with.

“Carr stole the last moments I should have had with my mam and I couldn’t say goodbye and never got to tell her how much we all loved her.

"His cowardly actions of running away meant I had to wait over three weeks before I could see my mam in the chapel of rest and I wasn’t able to touch her face or kiss her cheek.

“My mam was a kind and caring woman with a huge heart.

"She had an infectious smile, a brilliant sense of humour.

"She was a character and was always vulnerable to people taking advantage of her.

"But she would never hurt anyone and always saw the good in people.

“We all feel lost without her.

"I would speak to her regularly, she was the first person I’d turn to if I was happy, sad or angry.

"She was my best friend. She was my rock.”

Read more: Alexander Carr admits murder of Sunderland woman Michelle Hanson

Her sentiments were echoed by Mrs Kelly, who described her sister as having, “a massive heart, caring, funny, and crazy, in the kindest way.”

She said her sister often went out of the way to help others and always saw the good in others, in a trusting way, as witnessed by allowing her eventual killer into her flat on the fateful night.

The Northern Echo:

Mrs Kelly said: “She allowed a ‘friend’ in and said he was, 'one of the good guys'.

“That was the night that evil man took Michelle’s life and murdered her in the most brutal way.”

In passing sentence, Judge Paul Sloan, the Recorder of Newcastle, agreed with the psychiatrists’ joint opinion that despite Carr’s mental health issues, “the main driver” behind the, “particularly brutal attack”, was his voluntary consumption of drink and drugs that night.

The Northern Echo:

In fixing the life sentence at one of at least 19 years and three months, Judge Sloan said there was only a “limited, modest degree of mitigation” in the case.

He asked for the defendant’s psychiatric reports to accompany him to prison, where he has been on remand for 175 days since his arrest.

Speaking following the sentencing of Carr, Senior investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Barr of Northumbria Police, said: “This has been a horrific ordeal for Michelle’s family and I hope today can help them as they begin to move on with their lives and accept her tragic loss.

“They have shown real courage and strength since this investigation was launched and I want to thank them for all they have done to help us put Carr behind bars for his vile actions.

“Carr has shown no remorse and has never provided an explanation for why he murdered Michelle, a woman who invited him into her home as a friend.

“He killed her in her own home and then fled thinking we would never catch him.

“This is evident in the way he speaks to us during his arrest, genuinely shocked that the law had caught up with him.

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“Carr’s conviction and sentence shows that violence will never go unpunished and that dangerous people like him do not have a place in our communities.

“Michelle had a family and thanks to Carr they now have to live their lives without her and it is only right he now serves a lengthy sentence.

“I’d like to thank everyone who helped us bring Carr to justice for their efforts.”

He added: “From the officers and staff here in Northumbria, to the public who helped with our appeal, as well as our colleagues across the country, including the Metropolitan Police Service and criminal justice teams.”