Gambler jailed for double murder

A taxi driver and compulsive gambler who carried out the "unspeakably wicked" murders of two elderly ladies has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 30 years.

Heavy-drinking gambling addict Andrew Simon Flood pleaded guilty to murdering Margaret Biddolph, 78, and Anne Leyland, 88, at Liverpool Crown Court.

Flood, a married father of four, used a dressing gown cord and a telephone charger cable to strangle his victims - both of whom were customers of his, the court was told.

Flood was a "desperate" man who was in around £18,000 worth of debt and could not pay the rent on his family home.

Mrs Biddolph's body was discovered at her house in Lonsdale Road, Southport, on February 21, and Mrs Leyland was found dead at her home in nearby Birch Street in the early hours of the following day.

Speaking after the sentencing, Mrs Biddolph's daughter Anne Pearson said: "Today's sentencing sees justice done in the eyes of the law, but it will never bring our mother back to us. Her death is something we will never fully recover from."

Recorder of Liverpool Judge Clement Goldstone QC said Flood knew where his victims lived because he had worked for them as a private hire taxi driver.

"You targeted them because you wanted to rob them of their money and jewellery in order to feed your dependency to alcohol and your addiction to gambling which had caused you and your family to suffer financial hardship."

Flood, 43, from Clifton Road, Southport, wept when he entered guilty pleas to two counts of murder and one count of robbery.

Judge Goldstone said he could not be certain that Flood had pre-planned the killings but branded the murders "unspeakably wicked crimes".