Life for sadistic murderer
8:04am Tuesday 18th September 2007
A "vicious and sadistic bully" who brutally murdered a retired Bradford College lecturer has been jailed for life.
Stephen Browning, who attacked Susan Grundy in a Bridlington street and battered her to death only yards from her home, will serve at least 25 years.
Chilling CCTV footage shows Browning, 31, following Mrs Grundy through the dark streets of the seaside town before pouncing shortly after midnight on January 23 this year.
Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday how "kind and caring" Mrs Grundy was murdered after a night out with friends.
Mrs Grundy, whose husband David died of cancer in 2005, was "happy and excited" that night after finding out she had sold her house.
Prosecutor James Goss QC said Browning, who was a complete stranger to Mrs Grundy, was living in the seaside resort with his parents, was short of cash and had been drinking heavily.
He met Mrs Grundy, 56, by chance in the street at about 14 minutes past midnight.
Browning, who grew up in Heckmondwike, stalked her almost to her home in Wellington Road.
He attacked her in front of a veterinary surgery, then moved her up a ramp to a secluded spot behind some bushes before savagely beating her, kicking her and stamping on her.
He stripped her below the waist, pulled up her top clothing and robbed her of her handbag and a pendant and chain.
Browning then went to the Shades Nightclub, in Bridlington, where he used Mrs Grundy's money to buy drinks for himself and others.
Mr Goss said Mrs Grundy's body was found near wheelie bins at 8am that day. Her head was covered in blood, and blood had spattered a nearby wall.
A post-mortem examination found Mrs Grundy died from repeated blows to her face and neck.
She had a fractured skull, jaw fractures, displaced teeth, a broken nose and broken cheekbone. She had extensive bruising to her stomach consistent with being stamped on and punched hard.
Browning, who wore a distinctive white jacket that night, was arrested on January 26 in Middlesbrough.
His father contacted the police after seeing the CCTV images on television.
Browning at first denied all knowledge of the murder and branded it "disgusting".
After he was confronted by the camera evidence, he admitted encountering Mrs Grundy by chance.
He told detectives he asked her for a light and when she refused "something flipped in his head".
He pleaded guilty to the murder yesterday after a trial date had originally been set for next month at Hull Crown Court.
Mr Goss said Browning had convictions for violence against his wife and her child, as well as his former girlfriend.
David Hatton QC, mitigating, said Browning's memory of that night was "fragmented".
"He was high on a cocktail of other people's prescription drugs and awash with alcohol," said Mr Hatton Browning's only mitigation was his guilty plea, he added.
Mr Justice McKinnon said Browning followed Mrs Grundy that night, intent on robbery or sexual assault.
He had attacked her in the street, kicked and stamped on her, leaving her either dead or dying. He had sexually assaulted her, stripped and robbed her.
"This was a powerful and vicious attack on a wholly innocent and defenceless woman," the judge said.
Jailing Browning for life, he ruled he must serve at least 25 years until he is even considered for parole.
He warned Browning he would stay behind bars while he was considered a public danger and would be on prison licence for the rest of his life.
Browning had been in custody since his arrest and the judge deducted 239 days from his jail term.
After the case, Detective Chief Inspector Christine Kelk said the 25-year sentence was "some degree of justice" for Mrs Grundy's family.
"It was a prolonged, savage and brutal attack in the street" when Mrs Grundy was only yards from the safety of her home.
Det Chief Insp Kelk added: "Stephen Browning is a vicious and sadistic bully and it is right that he spends the best part of his life in prison."
Deadly chance encounter
A chance midnight encounter between two strangers led to one of the most savage murders a senior detective has seen.
And the contrast between the respectable and caring victim and her vicious killer could scarcely be greater.
College lecturer Susan Grundy and her husband David left Bradford in 2002 for "a better life" in Bridlington.
The couple, who had been together 20 years, moved from Thoresby Grove, Great Horton, to Wellington Road in the seaside resort.
Mrs Grundy had worked for West Yorkshire Ambulance Service and lectured and trained in first aid at Bradford College. Her husband was an art teacher.
When Mr Grundy died of cancer, aged 63, in 2005, Susan was depressed but rallied enough to socialise in her local pub, the Prior John, with friends.
A kind and caring person, she helped people with their gardens and looked after an infirm neighbour.
Her elderly mother Joan lives in Bradford and Mrs Grundy has two step-children.
On the night of her death, she was "happy and excited" at having found a buyer for the large home she and David had bought together.
Shortly after midnight on January 23, she said farewell to a friend and began the short walk along the darkened streets to her home.
At 14 minutes past midnight Mrs Grundy encountered Stephen Brown-ing.
Browning's path to the seaside resort was very different.
Born in Dewsbury, he had lived in Heckmondwike before moving to Bridlington 12 years ago.
He was in trouble with the police for theft and public order offences.
Browning married about five years ago and set up home with his wife and her daughter in Liversedge.
In October 2002, Browning attacked his wife and her daughter. He was jailed for causing each of them actual bodily harm. Mrs Browning left her husband but they are still married.
On New Year's Eve 2005, Browning began a relationship with mother-of-two Wendy Cording.
On March 26 2006, he punched her, causing two black eyes.
On August 7 last year, he assaulted her while drunk. He pulled her hair, smashed her head through a glass panel and punched her. She escaped to a women's refuge and Browning was jailed for four months.
Released from prison on January 9, he was then held in custody overnight for breach of the peace and obstructing a police officer. After his release, Browning went back to Bridlington to live with his parents.
On January 22, he was in the Harbor Lites pub scrounging drinks and complaining he was short of money. He left after 11pm.
After the killing, he downed shots at a nightclub with his victim's money and drank cider at a friend's flat, leaving behind Mrs Grundy's pendant and chain. On his way home he threatened to cut a man's head off.
He put his clothes in the wash basket at his parents' home from where the police recovered them.
The savage "stranger murder" was one of the worst seen by the officer in the case.
Detective Chief Inspector Christine Kelk said Mrs Grundy sustained some of the most violent injuries she had seen.