Murderer teenager, 19, left father-of-five's body in sulphuric acid
Teenager, 19, who ‘copied Breaking Bad’ as he tried to destroy father-of-five’s body with sulphuric acid after stabbing him in the head is found guilty of murder
- George Knights, 19, plunged commando dagger into Stephen Chapman’s skull
- He then stole neighbour’s wheelie bin and dumped body in it with sulphuric acid
- Knights, who had a dagger entwined with a snake tattooed on his neck just days before the killing, denied murdering Mr Chapman on October 23 last year
- But a jury at Maidstone Crown Court in Kent found him guilty of murder
A teenager who copied Breaking Bad by trying to destroy a father-of-five’s body with sulphuric acid after stabbing him in the head has been found guilty of murder.
George Knights, 19, told a court he took inspiration from the US crime series after plunging his father’s Royal Marine commando dagger 16 centimetres deep into Stephen Chapman’s skull.
Knights then stole a neighbour’s wheelie bin and dumped the body of Mr Chapman, 38, in it before dousing him in six bottle of drain cleaner with high levels of sulphuric acid.
In other similarities to the show, a jury heard Knights had the ready-supply of acid from his attempts at manufacturing amphetamine at his home in Rochester, Kent, and he used the name of lead character ‘Walter White’ – who made crystal methamphetamine – as his password reminder for an online DVLA account.
George Knights (pictured), 19, told a court he took inspiration from the US crime series after plunging his father’s Royal Marine commando dagger 16 centimetres deep into Stephen Chapman’s skull
Maidstone Crown Court, Kent, was told the well-spoken teenager’s life was ‘stranger than fiction’, and a judge described the killing and its background as ‘extremely disturbing’.
Knights, a keen bodybuilder and cage fighting fan who had a dagger entwined with a snake tattooed on his neck just days before the killing, denied murdering Mr Chapman on October 23 last year.
He then left Mr Chapman’s decomposing body in the bin in his conservatory while he went out partying through the night with friends, bingeing on drugs and alcohol.
Knights then stole a neighbour’s wheelie bin and dumped the body of Mr Chapman (pictured), 38, in it before dousing him in six bottle of drain cleaner with high levels of sulphuric acid
Mr Chapman was found two days later, with the double-edged military dagger still lodged in his head, after his desperate family had broken into Knights’s home.
During their attempts to find him, the teenager had repeatedly lied to both police and Mr Chapman’s pregnant girlfriend about his ‘disappearance’.
The court heard the pair had met up at Knights’s home at 8.40pm so the then 18-year-old could buy £2,500 of cocaine from Mr Chapman, who was known as ‘Ginger’.
Within minutes, Knights killed the forklift driver and then set about trying to destroy his body.
But he claimed he had acted in self-defence when he stabbed the drug dealer during a struggle on his living room floor.
He told the court he believed his life and his family were in danger from Mr Chapman and his criminal ‘associates’.
But Knights was found guilty after prosecutor Caroline Carberry QC told the court the murder had been part of a premeditated plan to ‘rob, hurt or even kill’ Mr Chapman at a time when the teenager was leading a ‘bizarre, out of control existence’.
The trial heard of what was described as other ‘extremely worrying behaviour’ in the weeks leading up to the fatal stabbing.
His father Edward was said to be ‘frustrated and at his wits end’ with his son, resulting in him refusing to give Knights any more money, cancelling his credit card, and threatening to evict him if he did not change his lifestyle.
Maidstone Crown Court, Kent, was told the well-spoken teenager’s (pictured) life was ‘stranger than fiction’, and a judge described the killing and its background as ‘extremely disturbing’
In a series of angry messages between the pair, Mr Knights described his teenage son as ‘a reckless wildman’.
Officers discovered photos on Knights’s phone of Mr Chapman’s body in the bin, his feet holding the lid ajar, and a video filmed at one of two parties he attended after the killing in which he boasted: ‘I’ll play this to all my new friends in jail.’
The teenager also tested positive on his arrest for a staggering 13 drugs, including ecstasy, amphetamine, cocaine, prescription medication Zanax and diazepam, and a cocktail of steroids.
Ms Carberry told the jury: ‘George Knights’s behaviour throughout 2020 was stranger than fiction.
‘This was a young man who inhabited a universe where he had set up his own amphetamine production at home, where a plan to hurt, to rob and, the prosecution say, to kill came, worryingly, very easily to him. This was no fantasy world.
Knights, a keen bodybuilder and cage fighting fan who had a dagger entwined with a snake tattooed on his neck (pictured) just days before the killing, denied murdering Mr Chapman on October 23 last year
‘George Knights was living a life where his primary focus was on taking drugs, making drugs and selling drugs. He also had an unhealthy fascination with knives.
‘The robbery of Stephen Chapman was for drugs and in the course of that he killed Mr Chapman.
‘This was just part of the very bizarre existence George Knights had carved out for himself at that time.’
Knights, who faces life imprisonment, showed no reaction to the verdict which came after almost six hours’ jury deliberation.
He was told by Judge Philip Statman that as well as a probation report assessing any danger he poses, a psychiatric report would be needed too.
‘By reason of what I have heard and the nature of what has occurred in this case, I’m absolutely certain the court requires a psychiatric report as well,’ said the judge.
‘I find this case extremely disturbing….In my judgment I have grave concerns about the level of danger that you pose to the community.’
Detective Chief Inspector Gavin Moss, the senior investigating officer for the case, said: ‘Knights is a callous killer who has robbed Stephen Chapman of his life and deprived his family of a future with him.
‘He has shown an appalling disregard for life and, on top of this, his efforts to dispose of the body deprived Mr Chapman’s family of an opportunity to see him for a final time.
‘His lack of remorse is clearly demonstrated by his decision to attend a party shortly after committing the offence and is further aggravated by the fact he chose to make Mr Chapman’s loved ones go through the ordeal of a trial.
‘He is a clear and obvious danger to the public and I am pleased that our investigation has led to him being convicted. Nothing is ever going to undo the harm Knights has caused, but I sincerely hope Mr Chapman’s family can feel a sense of reassurance from this result.’
Knights, of Rochester, Kent, will be sentenced at a later date.
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