A psychologist who killed his mother with a hammer and moved £25,000 from her bank account to buy a Jaguar has been jailed for life.
Robert Child, 37, who admitted murdering Janice, 64, wanted to prevent the collapse of his “fantasy lifestyle”, a judge ruled on Monday.
She was found in a bloodstained utility room at her home in Woolton, Liverpool, on 6 March, having been struck 31 times to the skull, the court heard. Her wounds appeared to have been caused by a hammer and another weapon.
After killing her, Child used her phone to transfer £25,000 to buy the £15,000 Jaguar, and in evidence said he went back to the home to say goodbye and had planned to drive to Italy to kill himself.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said police visited Child’s home but he wasn’t in. His partner answered the door and Child arrived shortly after in the Jaguar.
He appeared shocked, the CPS said, but gave a “confused” account of his movements, raising the police’s suspicions and ultimately leading to his arrest.
District Crown prosecutor Keith Drummond, of CPS Mersey Cheshire, said: “His complicated plan to cover his tracks unravelled when detectives discovered a screwed-up bus ticket from the area where his mother lived into Liverpool city centre, a short time after her death.
“He had also made the vital mistake of leaving his fingerprint in his mother’s blood on the handle of the door. ”
Child, from the Wirral, said he lost his temper after Janice told him she had used different Twitter accounts to troll his estranged wife online, though there was no evidence she ever had an account.
He had admitted killing her but denied it was financially motivated, leading to a trial of issue at Liverpool Crown Court.
He said the decision to transfer the money was made “spontaneously” and that his mother had agreed to fund the car purchase.
But Judge Dennis Watson QC said he did “whatever was necessary to gain access to the money he needed”, was in “serious” financial trouble with credit card and loan defaults amounting to £30,000 and living “far, far beyond his means”.
He told family and friends he worked for Manchester United but was actually in an unpaid research post at Liverpool University.
Child, who Judge Watson branded a “prolific liar”, had also claimed to have a doctorate, a PhD and gone to combat zones for the Ministry of Defence.
He also invented a bleed to the brain and said he played hockey for Great Britain, the court heard.
Child had made trips to London, Barcelona and Disneyland Paris in the months before March but by the day of the killing he had £1.01 in his bank account.
The judge said: “In conclusion I am satisfied this was not a sudden rage.
“I am sure Mrs Child said or did nothing to goad him into violence.
“It was his realisation that without her money his fantasy lifestyle would collapse.
“This was a murder done for gain and in expectation of gain.”
Sentencing him on Tuesday to a minimum term of 29 and a half years, less time spent in custody, the judge told him: “You murdered her because you realised there was no other way to obtain her money and without her money your sham lifestyle would be exposed and would collapse.
“You used chilling and ruthless violence in subjecting savage wounds to your defenceless mother.
“This was a merciless attack.”