BASINGSTOKE has seen its fair share of horrific crimes over the years and back in 2002 the town was shocked when one of the most brutal crimes in Basingstoke’s history took place.

On May 30, 2002, father of two Tristian Lovelock was brutally bludgeoned to death after being repeatedly hit in the head and face with a hammer.

Mr Lovelock's head was discovered a day later in the bushes at Russell Howard park in South Ham which sparked a huge man hunt for his killer.

His arm was later found in a neighbour's garden and police officers were led to a flat on St Nicholas Court, South Ham after following a trail of blood.

When they entered the apartment, they were shocked by what they saw.

Officers found blood on the ceiling and floor of the sitting room along with a human torso which was nearly severed in half.

A partially cooked human arm was lying in a roasting tin in the kitchen, next to a plate with a knife and fork, bread and ketchup.

The flat belonged to a man named Richard Markham, a local furniture dealer who had fled to New York after the incident.

On June 5, 2002, Markham was spotted in Central Park and arrested, his trial at Winchester court soon came around.

During his murder trial in July 2003, the gruesome details of Lovelock's murder were revealed.

The court heard that on the night of the murder, the pair had been at the flat in South Ham, drinking lager and cider and smoking cannabis.

After a row broke out Markham hit Lovelock around the head with a hammer 15 times before dismembering his body.

The prosecution alleged Markham planned the killing weeks before, as revenge for an incident where Mr Lovelock pushed him off a pub bench in front of several other people.

Markham claimed he had been acting in self-defence and lashed out because he thought Mr Lovelock was going to stab him.

Markham had then boasted about murdering Tristian messages left on friends' answerphones.

In a message left on friend of both mens' voicemail, a man alleged to be the defendant said he had taken a "hammer and smashed Tristian's brains all over the wall - [he's] lying on the floor in about one, two, three, four, five, six, seven bits (sound of laughter on tape) with a big knife sticking out of his back".

Mr Markham showed no emotion when the jury returned the guilty verdict.

He was jailed for life with the Judge stating: "The killing of Tristian Lovelock was carried out in circumstances of the utmost barbarity I am entirely satisfied that you, Richard Markham, are a very dangerous individual."

But just three years after the original conviction, Markham had his murder conviction downgraded to manslaughter at the Court of Appeal.

On May 9, 2006 three judges accepted Markham was suffering from a severe personality disorder at the time of the brutal murder.

The judges agreed that had the jury been aware of Markham's illness during his trial they would have convicted him of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

However, they ruled Markham would remain in Broadmoor hospital, Berkshire and if he ever were to be cured and released from the high-security mental hospital, he would be transferred to prison.

  • This article was amended on June 14  to switch comments off.