1. ITV Report

Blackpool barman guilty of murdering teenager

David Minto jailed for life for murdering 16 year old Sasha Marsden Photo: Lancashire Police
Sasha Marsden lured to her death on the pretence of getting a job Credit: Lancashire Police

A hotel barman has been jailed for a minimum of 35 years for the "sexually motivated" murder of a 16-year-old girl who was stabbed to death and then set on fire in an alleyway in Blackpool.

David Minto, 23, lured college student Sasha Marsden on the pretence of giving her job as a cleaner at the hotel owned by his girlfriend.

When the youngster rebuffed the advances of the sexual predator she was ferociously attacked from behind with a kitchen knife as she tried to escape.

The defendant stabbed her 58 times to the head, neck and face and then sexually defiled her as she lay dying or was already dead.

In a bid to dispose of any evidence that connected him to Sasha, he set her on fire in an alley behind the murder scene at the Grafton House Hotel in Kirby Road on January 31.

He had wrapped her body in carpet underlay, a duvet cover and a bin liner and set her alight before he returned inside to clean the hotel of blood.

The injuries of the teenager, from Staining, near Blackpool, were so severe she had to be identified by DNA from her toothbrush.

Minto denied her murder and told a jury at Preston Crown Court he last saw Sasha leaving the hotel and that she must have returned while he was upstairs and met her death at the hands of a mystery assailant.

He did admit moving the body in a state of shock but did not set her alight, he claimed.

His version of events was rejected by the jury after less than three hours of deliberation.

Minto showed no emotion as he was jailed for life. He must serve 35 years before he can be considered for parole.

Sentencing him, the Recorder of Preston Judge Anthony Russell QC said: "At your hotel you murdered her in the most brutal fashion. It was a ferocious and sustained attack.

"You have throughout the investigation not only lied but sought to cover your tracks and then tailor your account. You have shown a degree of low cunning but it was easily seen through."

He said Sasha was an attractive 16-year-old girl "with the prospect of a happy and successful life ahead of her" who came from a close and hitherto happy family.

He read out part of the victim impact statements from her parents Gary and Jayne in which they said "each wound you inflicted upon Sasha has stabbed at the heart of each and every one of her family".

Judge Russell praised the girl's family throughout the two-week trial in which they had to listen "with increasing incredulity" to the defendant's "preposterous" defence.

The manner of her death "will haunt us for the rest of our lives", added her parents.

Judge Russell told Minto: "You have displayed a complete absence of remorse. There is not a shred of common humanity in you. In my judgment you are a very dangerous and evil man."

Minto spent his days at the hotel playing video games and using social networking sites while his girlfriend worked part-time in a care home. Using his Facebook name "Demon" he set out to entice young girls to the hotel on the days that his partner was out at work.

He had pestered a friend of Sasha online for months who eventually told him he was clearly only interested in sex. Within minutes of being brushed off, Minto trawled the Facebook friends list of the girl and contacted Sasha who he had only met once briefly.

He mentioned the prospect of a job and they agreed to meet the next day for a tour of the hotel.

Minto kept the exchange a secret from his girlfriend and made arrangements for Sasha to return on January 31 for a work trial. The teenager was dropped off nearby by her father who never saw her again.

It is thought Minto attacked Sasha from behind as 48 of the deep and penetrating knife wounds were to the back of her head as she struggled in vain.

Opening the case, Peter Wright QC said: "It is the prosecution's case that Sasha was subjected to a ferocious attack within the hotel. She was stabbed repeatedly by the defendant during the course of which she was sexually assaulted and, notwithstanding the valiant struggle she had put in, she succumbed to those injuries and died."

Forensic tests showed the teenager's blood was found on the defendant's clothing, throughout the hotel and on the murder weapon.

Her blood-stained Adidas top, pink and white training boots, pink purse and mobile phone were found in a waste bin in the rear alleyway. The phone had been dismantled and the battery removed, the court heard.

Minto tried to show that Sasha had left the hotel by drafting two unsent text messages on her phone which asked for her to be picked up outside Madame Tussauds in the resort.

Her family became concerned when she did not return home and drove to the hotel where the defendant lied to Sasha's mother that she had left hours earlier.

Neighbours thought her burning body was a mannequin before Minto himself went outside and pointed out to them it was human.

He was arrested shortly after but denied killing Sasha and said that she had "thrown herself" at him sexually at the hotel. Giving evidence, he said she pushed him on to a bathroom floor and they had sex.

Minto explained her blood was inside because she had suffered a heavy nosebleed.

He was in "fear and shock" when he later found her body in the hallway and said he decided to move her out of the hotel because he had "an uneasiness about blood".

Sasha lived in Staining, near Blackpool, with parents Gary and Jayne and her boyfriend Daniel Taylor. She was studying child care at a local college and was looking to supplement her income with a part-time job.