Good Samaritan murder victim Graham Buck was warned not to come into the village home where a convicted killer lay in waiting, the Old Bailey heard.
His neighbour urged him to call the police after escaping the clutches of a dangerous criminal who had come to rob him – but told him not to come into the house. Yet Mr Buck went to his aid – and paid for it with his life.
Mr Buck, 66, was vice-chairman of the board of Aldwyck Housing Group, based in Houghton Regis, and lived at Little Gaddesden.
Killer Ian McLoughlin, 55, who travelled to Little Gaddesden while on day release from prison, pleaded guilty to robbery and murder when he appeared via videolink on Monday. He was jailed for life and told he must serve a minimum of 40 years.
He said that he had no regrets about his robbery bid, but said he was sorry about the brave pensioner’s fate. The court heard that he had been given a lift to Hemel Hempstead from Spring Hill Prison near Aylesbury where he was serving a life sentence for an earlier murder, committed in 1994.
McLoughlin then travelled to Little Gaddesden where he intended to meet elderly convicted paedophile Francis Cory-Wright. They had met in Little Hay prison where Cory-Wright was serving a 30-month prison sentence for child abuse in the 1970s.
Cory-Wright let McLoughlin into his home, where McLoughlin asked him for £850. When Cory-Wright refused, having already given him £400, McLoughlin seized him from behind. The court heard that McLoughlin said to him: “I hate doingythis to you, I do not want to hurt you, but I want to know where you keep your gold and silver.”
He tied Cory-Wright to a bed but as McLoughlin searched the house Cory-Wright managed to untie himself, ran to a window and called to Mr Buck, who lived two doors down.
Cory-Wright told Mr Buck to get the police as a murderer was in the house, but not to come in as Cory-Wright did not want to lure Mr Buck into danger. But another neighbour, Colin Fraser, told how he saw the two men grappling on Cory-Wright’s drive. McLoughlin appeared to be dragging Mr Buck towards the kitchen, he said.
Mr Buck later left the house with blood pouring from a throat wound.
For the prosecution, Ann Evans said: “His throat had been slashed wide open.”
Mortally wounded, Mr Buck ran to his own garden but died with his dog by his side. He and his wife Karen had just returned from a long weekend break in Poland where Mr Buck had met his five-month-old granddaughter for the first time.
McLoughlin escaped with an estimated £1,200 he had found in one of Cory-Wright’s cupboards and used it to fund gambling and drink until his arrest four days later.
He spent a third of the money on taxis and escaped Little Gaddesden by asking a receptionist at nearby Ashridge House to call a taxi to get him to Watford.
He later travelled to London, staying at a friend’s home, and dyed his hair to disguise himself. He planned to throw himself off Beachy Head in East Sussex, but instead got drunk until he was arrested, the court heard.
As he was arrested McLoughlin said: “He (Cory-Wright) deserves it, the ponce, the other guy (Buck) did not. I’m not sorry for what I did to the nonce but I am sorry for what I did to the pensioner.”
McLoughlin had discussed setting up a charity called Staging Point with Cory-Wright while the pair were in prison. Its aim was to resettle elderly offenders after their release. But McLoughlin later suggested it was more to do with rehousing himself, the court heard.
He had arranged to meet Cory-Wright about the charity but Cory-Wright told him not to come as he was feeling ill.
The court heard that McLoughlin had got Cory-Wright’s address from people drinking in Little Gaddesden pub the Bridgewater Arms before the attack on Saturday, July 13. McLoughlin was previously sentenced to 10 years in prison for manslaughter in 1984, reduced to eight on appeal, and to life with a minimum term of 14 years for murder in 1992. He also had a series of minor convictions dating back to 1970 when he was just 13.