Can Arslan jailed: what happened in Tewkesbury, how long will he serve for neighbour Matthew Boorman’s murder?

Can Arslan murdered his neighbour Matthew Boorman after waiting for him to return from work

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A man who stabbed his neighbour to death on his front lawn has been jailed for life with a minimum of 38 years.

Two off-duty police officers armed with wood and golf clubs tried to stop Can Arslan from harming anyone else after he murdered Matthew Boorman.

A group of residents in the street also gathered to surround Arslan who had knifed his neighbour 27 times.

Arslan, who was sentenced on Thursday, who had subjected Mr Boorman to years of threats and abuse laughed as he was arrested and said “I warned them I was going to murder him”.

The 52-year-old lay in wait for father-of-three Mr Boorman and attacked the 43-year-old as he walked towards his front door after returning from work on the afternoon of 5 October last year.

Can Arslan who knifed his neighbour 27 times after subjecting him to years of threats and abuse has been found guilty of murder.Can Arslan who knifed his neighbour 27 times after subjecting him to years of threats and abuse has been found guilty of murder.
Can Arslan who knifed his neighbour 27 times after subjecting him to years of threats and abuse has been found guilty of murder.

Mr Boorman’s wife Sarah suffered a deep wound to her leg as she tried to pull him off her husband, and the attacker then forced his way into the home of Peter Marsden and knifed him eight times.

After Arslan was found guilty of murder Mr Boorman’s family criticised the police and authorities saying their response to the danger Arslan posed was “toothless and ineffective.”

The killing of Mr Boorman was the culmination of 12 years of threats from Arslan against his neighbours in Walton Cardiff, near Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.

The murder and subsequent threats and attacks were caught on the neighbourhood’s many CCTV and doorbell cameras installed by anxious residents.

What happened during the trial?

Arslan admitted the attempted murder of Mr Marsden, causing grievous bodily harm to Mrs Boorman, and a charge of affray, but denied murder.

Instead, he claimed the charge he should face for killing Mr Boorman was manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

A jury unanimously convicted him of murder after a day of deliberations.

The court heard that Arslan was not mentally ill or in the grip of psychosis, but that he has been diagnosed with a personality disorder.

It manifested itself in extreme anger and aggression to perceived insults, making grandiose claims about himself and an exaggerated sense of his own importance.

The defence argued Arslan’s personality disorder is in itself an abnormality of mental function and therefore provided a defence to murder.

On sentencing him at Bristol Crown Court Mrs Justice Cutts said: “On that afternoon, for no reason at all, you took the life of a decent family man, robbed his children of their father, his wife of her husband, and his mother and siblings of a much-loved son and brother.

“You have shown no guilt or remorse at any stage about Mr Boorman’s death – rather you were telling the psychiatrists who examined you before your trial that he deserved to die.

“You have continued to utter threats to your neighbours from prison. You are without doubt a highly dangerous man.

“I see no mitigation in your case. I acknowledge you suffer from a personality disorder, this did not diminish your responsibility for what occurred, you acted rationally and in a controlled way throughout this terrible incident and you understood the consequences of your actions.”

Matthew Boorman.Matthew Boorman.
Matthew Boorman.

What had happened prior to the murder?

At the time of the killing, Arslan was the subject of an injunction prohibiting him from threatening or abusing his neighbours, and had been served with a notice of eviction.

Small rows over parking and a scratch to a car had escalated to the point where Arslan had repeatedly threatened to attack or kill those living near him.

In May, Mrs Boorman had made a statement to police setting out a summary of the threats they had received.

She said they were worried about being murdered, or that someone was going to be seriously hurt very soon.

Arslan made counter-allegations, accusing the Boormans of racially abusing him.

The day before the attack, a police officer had telephoned Arslan about the complaint he had made.

During the call, Arslan verbally abused the officer, and told him he would sort his neighbour out himself, adding “I will murder him”.

CCTV image which has been shown in court which shows barefoot Can Arslan being confronted by two off duty policemen armed with golf clubs after an incident which left one person dead and two stabbed.CCTV image which has been shown in court which shows barefoot Can Arslan being confronted by two off duty policemen armed with golf clubs after an incident which left one person dead and two stabbed.
CCTV image which has been shown in court which shows barefoot Can Arslan being confronted by two off duty policemen armed with golf clubs after an incident which left one person dead and two stabbed.

How was Arslan stopped?

Arslan had been pursued by an off-duty police officer, Sergeant Steve Wilkinson, who had armed himself with a piece of wood.

While being attacked, Peter Marsden managed to push Arslan out of his home and Sgt Wilkinson hit him with the piece of wood.

CCTV footage was shown to jurors which showed how several nearby neighbours congregated in the street to try and stop Arslan from hurting anyone else.

Another off-duty officer, PC Josh Norris, had collected two golf clubs and the group of around six or seven men then surrounded Arslan as he walked in the street.

The court also heard how during this time several neighbours, including two off-duty nurses, were trying to save Mr Boorman and provide medical assistance to him on his front lawn. They then carried Mr Boorman inside his home.

Police arrived and Arslan was red-dotted with a Taser; he then dropped the knife, and was arrested and taken into custody.

What happened after he was arrested?

Footage of Arslan’s arrest shows him lying on the ground laughing.

He went on to tell police: “He is dead, isn’t he? I warned you, the police. One year. Look, it happened.”

He later adds: “I warned them I was going to murder him.”

Arslan also told the officers: “There is a bounty on your head” and “you are next.”

After his arrest, he claimed to have taken an overdose of opiate-based medication including diazepam, but a hospital assessment found he was not on any kind of drug.

While in hospital, Arslan was interviewed by police and made comments about stabbing his neighbours, and referred to his impending eviction and his life being ruined.

At 7.33pm on the night of the murder, he mentioned hearing voices telling him to kill, saying it was the voice of his childhood teddy bear.

It was the first time he had ever made mention of voices, and a forensic psychiatrist said he was sceptical about the claim.

In a second police interview, Arslan claimed not to remember the killing or the attacks on Mrs Boorman and Mr Marsden.

What has Mr Boorman’s family said?

Speaking after the verdict, Mr Boorman’s sister Sarah Elston said: “We will never be the same without him, but as we move forward and learn how to cope without him, we fight in his name to expose not only the malice and cruelty of the man that did this, but also the failings in the system that let this happen.

“In the years that preceded Matthew’s death, multiple agencies and authorities were warned of the threat that this man posed not only to Matthew, but to many other neighbours who were threatened and harmed by him.

“Although Matthew’s murder has shocked us all to the core, the incident was not remotely out of the blue.

“The police and other authorities had been told about how dangerous this man was, the threats he made, and the risks he presented.

“The response was toothless and ineffective, even when the defendant himself told the police he was going to murder Matthew.

“That conversation took place on 4 October, the night before Matthew died. He was not even warned.

“Matthew was not this man’s only victim on that dreadful evening, but he was the only one with the misfortune to pay the high price of his life.

“But Matthew’s story must not end here. We must all ask ourselves why this was able to happen, and how things were ever allowed to get this far. Mistakes were made.

“They must be acknowledged, truly learned from, and must never be repeated.”

Mr Boorman’s widow spoke of his zest for life and how he loved spending time with his family.

“Perhaps what people will remember most of all about Matt is his smile. His energy, his love, his laughter – a very proud father of his children,” she said.

What have the authorities said?

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it was investigating Gloucestershire Police’s “actions following a series of reported neighbourhood incidents” prior to Mr Boorman’s death.

Craig Holden, Assistant Chief Constable of Gloucestershire Police, said an independent multi-agency review had been commissioned.

“It is crucial we allow these reviews to be carried out without prejudice and as such it would not be appropriate to comment in any detail at this time,” he said.

Peter Tonge, from Tewkesbury Borough Council, said: “As a local council our powers in these difficult and complex situations are limited, particularly when it involves private housing – we did not have the authority to evict him, nor have the power to instigate eviction proceedings ourselves.

“As with all serious cases like these, we will be carrying out a full review of our involvement.”