A "cold-blooded" teenage boy who stabbed his Grindr date more than 128 times has been sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum of 24 years.
Brian Healless, 18, lured "kind and gentle" Alex Davies, also 18, to a secluded hillside in Lancashire before butchering him in a calculated murder. Healless, of Chorley, was found guilty of murdering Alex at Preston Crown Court and sentenced on Tuesday.
Alex was killed on April 29 last year at a quiet area of Parbold Hill known as Alder Covert after he and Healless met online and then arranged via private social media messages to meet in person.
His body was found at around 5.20pm on May 1 by a gamekeeper walking his dog in the area. It had been hidden under a blanket.
The murder weapon, a kitchen knife, was located a short way from the body and was hidden in the ground. A postmortem showed Alex had also suffered two breaks to his nose, black eyes and bruising to his head.
Detectives carried out a painstaking and robust investigation, analysing DNA found at the crime scene and Healless's address, mobile phone records belonging to both Healless and Alex, Healless's internet search history and CCTV.
They were able to place both Healless and Alex at Parbold Hill at the same time, with CCTV showing Healless arriving in the area empty-handed and then leaving a short time later in possession of Alex's backpack. Messages between the two revealed they were planning to meet up and were heading for the same place.
At Healless's address, officers found clothing that had traces of Alex's blood on it and Alex's mobile phone, which had been stolen from the murder scene by Healless. They also found evidence that the knife used to kill Alex had come from Healless's house.
Detectives later discovered that, following Alex's death, Healless had begun making plans to meet up with another teenager but was arrested before the meeting could take place.
In court, Healless admitted killing Alex but claimed he had been suffering mental health problems which meant he had not been in control of his actions. The jury rejected his claim that the killing was manslaughter, and he was found guilty of murder.
Sentencing, Judge Mark Brown said: "It was a planned and pre-meditated killing and, although the motive will never be known, it seems you were intent on having his hi-spec phone.
"You were messaging him on Grindr and Instagram for the purpose of meeting him at a remote location. You were undoubtedly setting him up to kill and you are a manipulative, calculating and devious person.
"You made a Google search about the phone before the meeting and stole it immediately after the killing. You took the other phone and Samsung Galaxy watch, a set of headphones and a leather wallet, a rucksack as well, and not long after you had returned home you re-registered and factory reset the two phones.
"In my judgment, you are a cold-blooded killer, and this was a most brutal murder."
Following the verdict, Beverley Davies, Alex's mother, said: "We are so relieved that the jury came to the right decision and common sense prevailed. Although the verdict won't bring back Alex, he was much loved by us all.
"A kind and gentle boy, the antithesis of his murderer, who we believe should never be released and will always be a danger to society."