THE judge handing out a life sentence for the murder of Henry Stangroom said that the Odiham chef's death "amounted to almost an execution."

Andrew Morris, 30, brutally murdered 21-year-old Mr Stangroom on October 17 last year by shooting him in the head with a spear gun before stabbing him in the chest with a kitchen knife.

Morris received a life sentence at the Old Bailey last Friday and will serve a minimum of 23 years in prison. He sighed heavily in the dock after Judge Wendy Joseph sentenced him.

She told him: “This was a deliberate, planned killing, planned well in advance, amounting almost to an execution, on a man who at the time of the initial attack must have been asleep in his own bed.

“The only motive raised is that you set out to kill Henry Stangroom because he was the dearly beloved brother of Michelle who had left you, and because he either would not assist you in getting her back or was positively obstructing that possibility.

“I am quite satisfied that you have studied over and over again the papers in this case, as you studied for your exams, and that you have prepared a defence that sought to account for every facet of the Crown’s case, right down to a bloodied sock print.”

She added that Morris had tried to manipulate the jury by directly addressing Mr Stangroom’s parents in court – they attended every day of the six-week trial.

The court heard that in the run-up to the attack, Morris had been on sick leave from his highly-paid job as an actuary at a city firm. He was abusing cocaine and alcohol, and his employers had started disciplinary action against him.

The attack took place in Mr Stangroom’s bedroom, in the flat the two men shared in Battersea, London.

Afterwards, Morris slashed his wrists before firing a spear gun into his chin, before officers arrived at the flat, having been called by Mr Stangroom’s concerned relatives.

Detectives also found Morris had videoed himself crushing a pet hamster belonging to Michelle Stangroom. He had also repeatedly stabbed her fluffy duck toy.

Mr Stangroom, whose parents live in Rye Common, Odiham, had moved to London where he worked as a chef at The Criterion restaurant, in Piccadilly Circus.

In a statement released after Morris was found guilty by the jury, Mr Stangroom’s family said that no sentence would be long enough for their son’s murderer.

The statement added: “There is no justice for our son and brother – nothing will bring him back. We will never be able to come to terms with the loss of Henry – we will never be able to move on.”

Morris had denied murder, claiming he had stabbed Mr Stangroom in self-defence and was mentally unwell at the time of the attack.