WALES: Double murderer wins jail term cut; Judge astonished by original verdict.
A JEALOUS recluse convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend and her new lover yesterday saw the minimum term he must spend behind bars reduced.
Andrew Cole, of Llandrindod Wells, Powys, killed the couple after recording the sound of their lovemaking.
He claimed he should have been convicted of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
But at his first trial in 1997 - and a retrial the following year - he was found guilty of murder.
Following a review of the 15-year tariff - the minimum Cole must serve before being considered for parole - a High Court judge yesterday ruled the term should be reduced to 11 years.
Mr Justice Mackay, sitting in London, also said the 29 months and 26 days Cole spent on remand in custody should be deducted from the 11-year term.
The decision means he is now eligible to be considered for parole under "early release" provisions. But the Parole Board will only release a prisoner on licence if they are no longer considered a risk to the public.
Mr Justice Mackay said "notwithstanding the appalling nature of this double murder" the outstanding feature in the case was the "obvious sub-normality or mental abnormality of the defendant" which alone was sufficient to require a reduction down to 11 years.
Cole was given two life sentences after being convicted of the double murder by a Chester Crown Court jury in January 1997.
The court then heard how he stabbed 28-year-old Fiona Ovis 52 times when he burst into a bedroom at her grandparents' Llandrindod Wells bungalow in May 1996.
Her boyfriend, William Crompton, 18, with whom she had just begun a relationship, was stabbed 38 times.
Cole, then in his twenties, admitted killing the couple in a "frenzied" attack with a knife. The principal issue for the jury's consideration was diminished responsibility.
The judge at the first trial said he was "astonished" the jury rejected the diminished responsibility defence.
Cole later won an appeal against conviction when the Court of Appeal ordered a retrial.
He was remanded in custody pending his second trial in November 1998 when once again a jury rejected diminished responsibility.
Mr Justice Mackay, who described the circumstances leading to the murders as "bizarre", said: "There was no dispute but that the defendant suffered from a paranoid personality disorder of the obsessive/ compulsive type at the time of these events. "The issue was whether his responsibility for what he did was substantially impaired, and the verdict of two juries was that it was not."
Andrew Cole (pictured) has seen his minimum sentence for the 1996 murders of Fiona Ovis and William Crompton cut from 15 to 11 years