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Jury find David Squelch guilty of murder after stabbing James Wallington

Paddock Wood dustman David Squelch has been jailed for life today for the revenge murder of a colleague in a frenzied attack near their work depot.

The jury rejected the 49-year-old’s defence that the knife attack happened when he was out of control because of a paranoid personality disorder.

Judge Adele Williams, sitting at Canterbury Crown Court, told him it had been a “brutal, ferocious and sustained attack.”

David Squelch
David Squelch

After inflicting 17 injuries on innocent James Wallington – including plunging the hunting knife into his body 14 times – he callously walked away..to get himself a bottle of water.

And as friends and colleagues raced to his side to try and save the life of the caring father-of-four, Squelch sat calmly in an office.

Squelch, of Maidstone Road, Paddock Wood then told a worker that the attack happened after a discussion about his late mother.

Then he callously added: “She’s dead... now he’s dead!”

James Wallington
James Wallington

Although he never gave evidence at the re-trial, the jury heard how he had harboured a grudge for two years over an alleged bullying incident involving Mr Wallington.

Judge Williams told him his sentence was one of life..but under law she had to set a minimum term of 22 years before he could be considered for parole.

But she told him he may serve longer and may never be released unless it was considered safe for him to be freed.

She had heard how the family of the “hard-working, pleasant and much loved “ Mr Wallington were suffering.

David Squelch at the plant
David Squelch at the plant

She said that their "raw anguish, grief and distress cried out” from the victim impact statements submitted by the victim’s daughter and sister.

The judge then praised DCI Tony Pledger and his team of detectives who had carried out the murder investigation.

The court heard how Mr Wallington was unaware that Squelch bore him a grudge over a comment he allegedly made about his late mother.

And secretly Squelch kept a hunting knife in the back of his van,...and when Mr Wallington;’s back was turned, attacked him within minutes of them arriving in the same vehicle to work at the Cory Environmental Recycling Centre in Tunbridge Wells.

David Squelch and James Wallington arrive at the recycling plant
David Squelch and James Wallington arrive at the recycling plant

The prosecution told how Squelch had murdered his friend by stabbing him with a Bear Grylls hunting knife in March last year.

Squelch had admitted carrying out the frenzied knife attack – but denied it was murder.

The shocking last moments of Mr Wallington’s life were caught on the company’s CCTV and shown to the jury.

Prosecutor William Hughes said the two men had been a team at the depot for two years and had got on well.

Judge Adele Williams
Judge Adele Williams

They had arrived for work in Squelch’s car in North Farm Lane just seven seconds before the stabbing.

Mr Wallington is seen walking towards the barrier at the depot when Squelch runs up behind him and launches the 20-second attack.

“She’s dead... now he’s dead!” - David Squelch after the murderous attack

“Mr Wallington does little to defend himself and the reason is that Mr Squelch wasn’t punching but stabbing him with a serrated Bear Grylls hunting knife," he added.

The jury heard that as colleagues performed CPR paramedics and the air ambulance crew raced to the compound – but Mr Wallington died within 50 minutes.

A police investigation uncovered that in the summer of 2014 there had been a brief confrontation between the pair.

Mr Wallington had made a comment about the manner in which David Squelch had handled his mother’s death, suggesting it was time to move on.

Squelch had punched Mr Wallington but the incident went no further, was never reported to the police and the pair appeared to have made up. 

Mr Wallington was stabbed 17 times with a Bear Grylls hunting knife like this one. Library image.
Mr Wallington was stabbed 17 times with a Bear Grylls hunting knife like this one. Library image.

Detective Chief Inspector Tony Pledger from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: "This was a vicious, and sustained attack and once Squelch had killed the victim he calmly waited for the police to arrive.

"Squelch appears to have struggled to cope with the grief of losing a loved one.

"However, he has now inflicted the same grief on another family, by senselessly murdering Mr Wallington.

"The sentence that has been passed fits the crime, and I would like to offer our continued condolences to the family of James Wallington."

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