Six years’ jail for York killer of Liam Miller – the friend who stabbed him 32 times during ‘drug-induced psychosis’

Liam Miller – had his whole life ahead of him
13 Nov 2015 @ 6.02 pm
| Crime

Liam Miller was his friend and bandmate. But Samuel Donley stabbed him to death at his York home while high on drugs.

On Friday (November 13) Donley was started a jail term of six years and eight months for manslaughter.

Leeds Crown Court heard how Donley, 20, of Hamilton Drive West, Acomb, stabbed Liam, also 20, 32 times on the night of Monday, July 27, 2015.

Liam died despite the courageous efforts of neighbours, paramedics and police who gave medical assistance at the scene.

Donley and Liam were good friends and played in a band together. Both were interested in experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs.

Psychotic episode: Samuel Donley, who killed Liam
Psychotic episode: Samuel Donley, who killed Liam

That night Donley’s parents were away and they both took the drug 25i-NBOMe early in the evening.

As its effects took hold they began to record their feelings and experiences.

Later that night, in what police described as an “horrific and violent attack”, Donley killed Liam while under the influence of the drug.

No motive for the attack has been established. The court heard that the conclusion is that Donley killed Liam during a psychotic episode brought on by the drug.

Donley was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of Liam and to causing grievous bodily harm to a 60-year-old York man.

He was also handed a 32-month concurrent jail term for the attack on the second man.

Heroes who intervened

Police at the house in Hamilton Drive West, York., after Liam was attacked. Photograph: YorkMix
Police at the house in Hamilton Drive West, York, after Liam was attacked. Photograph: YorkMix

As Liam lay fatally injured in the driveway of Donley’s home, a 60-year-old man stopped to help, believing someone had suffered a seizure.

After realising what was actually happening, the man ran in fear for his life – but Donley caught up with him and attacked him several times with the knife.

At the same time, Donley’s neighbours were disturbed by the noise and came out to see what was happening.

On realising the situation, one immediately administered first aid to Liam.

The other ran after Donley, preventing him from inflicting further harm to the man. He made Donley return to the house and shut him inside, all the while holding on to the door to prevent Donley from escaping and attacking anyone else.

When the emergency services arrived at the scene, Donley was arrested following a violent confrontation with police officers.

Evening ended in catastrophe

Police at the scene – ‘a stark reminder of the dangers in taking drugs’
Police at the scene – ‘a stark reminder of the dangers in taking drugs’

Detective Inspector Mark Pearson of North Yorkshire Police’s Major Crime Unit, said:

This case is one of absolute tragedy brought about through the use of illegal drugs. What started out as two best friends enjoying a night together, has ended in catastrophic circumstances.

Liam Miller’s promising life has been cut short. Sam Donley is facing several years in prison and has to live with the fact that he has killed his best friend.

If ever there was a stark reminder of the dangers in taking drugs – this is it.

Our thoughts remain with Liam’s family who have been utterly devastated by his death yet have shown great dignity throughout the investigation.

Det Insp Pearson paid tribute to the neighbours who intervened.

I must also acknowledge the actions of both the second victim who stopped to help, only to find himself on the receiving end of Donley’s frenzied attack, and the two neighbours who attended to Liam and ensured Donley was confined to the house once they persuaded him to return.

They put their own life in danger and are to be commended for their quick thinking which potentially saved further tragedy.

‘Nothing can ever bring him back’

Liam, from the village of Terrington near Malton, was a design student at Liverpool University. He had returned home for the summer when he was killed.

He was also a musician, playing guitar in five-piece local band Nocebo. Samuel Donley was the singer and Liam the guitarist.

Liam’s family spoke of their utter devastation and shock at his death.

A statement issued by Liam’s father, brother and sister and their partners and Liam’s nephew said:

It is impossible to find the words to describe how we feel about Liam’s death.

He is the first thing we think about in the morning and the last thing we think about at night. It is hard to accept that he had his whole life in front of him.

It was such a waste of life and he didn’t deserve what happened.

Without any doubt, this is the hardest and most painful experience any human being will have to go through.

It is very difficult for us to put into words or express how we feel or what we wanted the outcome to be.

We know that nothing can ever bring him back.

Nothing is going to make up for the suffering our family and friends have had to deal with over the last few months.

Dangerous drug

The drug 25i-NBOMe, also known as N-Bomb, in powder form. Photograph ©
The drug 25i-NBOMe, also known as N-Bomb, in powder form. Photograph ©

The drug 25i-NBOMe is also known as 25i, INB-MeO, N-bomb, Smiles, Mr. Happy, Solaris and Cimbi-5.

Police warned the potential effects of this drug can be catastrophic. Users have been found to suffer from paranoia, violence, agitation, seizures and hallucinogenic effects.

It can also cause increased heart rate and blood pressure which can in extreme cases lead to heart failure.

There are numerous reports both in the UK and worldwide where people who have taken the drug have gone on to inflict serious harm upon themselves.

Det Insp Pearson said:

Members of the public need to be aware of the potential dangers of this drug. As with all drugs, people may not be aware of what they are taking and the effects it may have.

This case must surely be a wake-up call to everyone who experiments with illegal drugs.

It is simply not worth putting your life or anyone else’s in such grave danger.

NBOMe is a synthetic drug and was made illegal in June 2014 becoming a class A controlled drug.

If you or anyone else becomes unwell after taking illegal drugs or legal highs, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Further information about drugs, including the NBOMe family of drugs can be found on the Talk To Frank website.