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How row over money led to Greg Irvin's shocking murder of his grandmother Anne James

By John Scott | Walsall | News | Published:

Debt-ridden Greg Irvin cut the throat of his doting grandmother and stabbed her more than 40 times with her own bread knife after discovering she had been told to stop giving him money.

The 26 year old’s addiction to gambling and use of cocaine had left him owing £35,000 to banks and credit card companies.

He was also jobless after being involved in a bungled bid to steal £29,600 worth of leather goods on April 20 last year from FedEx in Burntwood where he had worked for six years. He admitted the offence.

Generous grandma Anne James, a 74-year-old retired nurse and charity volunteer who never saw bad in anybody, had handed him thousands of pounds, including £5,000 to buy his first car and £1,000 to pay off gambling debts.

Irvin had trawled the internet using the search words ‘old lady killed but killer never found’ just two days before Mrs James was murdered at her Walsall Wood home.

Doveridge Place, where Anne James lived and was brutally murdered

Eventually her daughter – Irvin’s mother Jayne who was growing increasingly concerned about his sometimes intimidating behaviour – urged Mrs James to stop funding him.

This well-intentioned intervention may have been the trigger for the appalling attack that cost the life of the much-loved churchgoing pensioner on February 28.

Armed with her bread knife, Irvin launched a frenzied attack, probably from behind, on his grandmother, during a short visit to the home. Mrs James, whose husband Jim was in hospital, was preparing soup for herself after a shopping trip when he struck. A neighbour found her lying dead in the pantry after being asked to check up on the pensioner by the victim’s anxious daughter who had been unable to get in contact.

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Mrs James, a well-known member of the congregation at St Luke’s Church in Walsall, regularly raised money for good causes through the sale of home-made chutney and jams. At the time of her death she had £2,000 stored away for charity in cereal packets, tins and drawers throughout her listed three-storey house in Doveridge Place, Sandwell Street. Detective Inspector Harry Harrison, who led the murder investigation, said: “Irvin’s grandmother had been trying to help him out but was told not to give him any more money. We think something might have been said and he just flipped.”

Irvin, who was living in Bilboe Road, Bradley, when the murder took place, passed 10 GCSEs with A-C Grades at Aldridge Secondary School but also had mental health issues.

Meltdown

He had been treated for depression and was suffering from high functioning autistic syndrome disorder which was claimed to have led to a violent, psychotic meltdown when the murder took place.

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In the past he had allegedly chased a colleague with a machete and attempted to strangle a former girlfriend. It was also suggested he had been self medicating with cocaine instead of taking prescribed drugs for his depression for five days before the attack. But Irvin’s thinking was sufficiently rational for him to remove the murder weapon together with a ‘spy’ camera and his grandmother’s mobile phone from the house following the bloodbath.

CCTV showed him parking his blue Mini in the Highgate area of Walsall and walking towards her home around lunchtime. DNA swabs taken from the car and his jacket also linked him to the crime.

The jury decided he knew what he was doing and took just two hours to decide he was guilty of murder after a ten-day trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

DI Harrison concluded: “The shame of it is his family provided an awful lot of support for him, particularly in trying to sort out his debt problems. He comes from a loving, close family who could not have done any more for him.”

“For several years he had brought nothing but problems through him compulsively telling lies and being addicted to gambling.”

John Scott

By John Scott
Reporter/News Feature Writer

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