The 2006 paperback edition of Remorseless opened with this Prologue:
Crime report from The Daily Courier newspaper:
‘MONSTER’ GETS LIFE FOR KILLING PARENTS
Eighteen-year old Peter Leech of Reading was labelled ‘a monster’ by the Rt Hon Mr Justice Potter as he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the brutal murder of his parents.
Leech, who has continually denied guilt, insisting he has no recollection of the double slaying, showed no emotion as the judge passed sentence at the Old Bailey yesterday.
Albert and Deborah Leech, both aged 50, were hacked to death in their luxurious Berkshire home in June last year. Police believe that the frenzied attack was prompted by Mr Leech’s decision to delay a million pound trust settlement originally due to be gifted to his son on the boy’s eighteenth birthday. The court heard how Peter Leech murdered his parents in cold blood when he discovered they had decided to defer the payment until his twenty-fifth birthday.
Mr and Mrs Leech were well respected in the local community, having built a hugely successful computer component supplies business. They were rumoured to have received over thirty million pounds when they sold out to The Computerstore chain last January. Mr Leech had joked at the time, ‘We’re taking early retirement after twenty years of fourteen-hour days. I plan to play a lot of golf.’
The couple were extremely popular with local people, and were increasingly involved in voluntary work and charitable causes. They had reputedly gifted several million pounds to Berkshire charities since retiring.
During the trial the jury heard that their son Peter had a history of drug abuse, truancy and minor misdemeanours. Mr Leech had endeavoured to keep the boy’s behaviour under control and, although in public he dismissed his son’s actions as merely ‘high spirits’, he had forced the wayward youth to undergo therapy for several years.
Leech first came to the attention of the police three years ago over a sexual assault charge, but the case was dropped by the plaintiff due to the trauma of testifying. Leech denied guilt at the time, a pattern he repeated in this trial.
The jury found differently. Justice Potter gave him two life sentences to run concurrently, telling Leech, ‘You have led a feckless life, and despite having been gifted the advantages of a loving family and a wealthy background, your unfathomable greed drove you to the callous, cold-blooded and vicious murder of your own flesh and blood. Through your actions you have deprived your parents of their future happiness and undoubtedly devastated the life of your brother, Shaun.’
Shaun Leech, 21, was extensively questioned by police after being implicated by his younger brother. At first the killer claimed his brother was responsible for the murders, accusing Shaun of trying to frame him. Confronted with the evidence he changed his story, saying he had little recollection of events that day.
When the police arrived on the scene at the family estate in Crowthorne they found Shaun sitting on the kitchen floor, covered in blood, weeping as he hugged his parents’ butchered remains, repeating over and over, ‘Peter killed them.’
The two Leech boys were both arrested and investigated for potential involvement, but Shaun was later exonerated when mobile phone records confirmed he had finished a telephone call to his girlfriend as he arrived home – just two minutes before he called the emergency services to report the crime.
Detectives realized that Shaun would not have had time to commit the crimes and focused their attention on Peter, whose bloody fingerprints were found on the murder weapon. They later praised Shaun for his actions on the day and for his quick thinking under extremely traumatic conditions.
Shaun, on discovering his parents’ ravaged bodies, was initially concerned for his brother, and immediately went to investigate whether he had also been injured in the attack. Instead he caught Peter Leech red-handed, disposing of evidence and showering to remove his parents’ blood. Shaun assaulted the killer, who was still unconscious when the police arrived.
In court, Shaun wept as he said, ‘If I hadn’t come home from university a day early, my brother could have got away with murder. He not only hacked my parents to death, he even tried to blame me. He’s sick. Always has been.’
When asked how he felt about his brother after the judge passed sentence he replied, ‘I have no brother. He’s dead. As far as I’m concerned he died with my mother and father.’
The judge summed up his condemnation of Leech, ‘I have rarely witnessed such savagery on the part of a criminal and I can only think that these were truly the actions of a monster. You have shown no remorse and consistently denied guilt in the face of overwhelming evidence.’
Justice Potter went on to say he had no hesitation in sentencing Leech to life in prison, adding, ‘In view of your youth and the possibility that prison will give you the time to reflect on your heinous acts, I propose that you serve a minimum term of eighteen years. I hope and pray that, in time, you may be able to return to society, possibly in your mid-thirties, as a responsible well-adjusted individual, able to contribute positively.’
Emotions were running high in court as the sentence was passed. Some people expressed their view that the judge was too lenient, including Shaun Leech.
‘It’s ridiculous. Life should mean life for what he’s done. That monster should rot in jail until he’s ready for his journey to hell. If he ever gets out alive, I will kill him.’
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Author's comments on Remorseless
This article 'appeared' eighteen years before the events in the novel take place: originally this formed the prologue, in the paperback edition first published in Asia in 2006. The intention was to set up the conflict between Peter and Shaun as the backdrop but, as much of the information is revealed as the story unfolds, I omitted this news report from the current edition to avoid repetition.
Feedback from readers suggested a more immediate and dynamic start might be preferable for this crime thriller too, so we open the current edition instead with psychopath Leech murdering his fellow inmate, Cochran.
The very first version of the prologue was written from the unnamed killer's point of view as he murdered his parents, but it was just too gory so I scrubbed it. I never actually got round to typing the chapter up either - it remains in my appalling handwritten scrawl with all the other pages from the very first draft.
Let me know what you think!