A gambling addict who researched the internet to learn how to commit murder has been jailed for life for bludgeoning two women to death at a Midland massage parlour.
Garry Harding battered Samantha Tapper and Annie Eels to death in a ferocious hammer attack in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, on July 1 last year before stealing £330 from the premises.
Harding, 23, from Welshpool, had initially denied two charges of murder but changed his pleas to guilty following the beginning of a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.
Sentencing him yesterday, Mr Justice King ruled Harding must serve at least 25 years in prison before being considered for parole. The judge said 55-year-old Annie Eels, who worked on reception, had received about 16 heavy blows to her face and head, while 23-year-old mother-of-one Samantha Tapper, from Wolverhampton, who was providing sexual services at Rachael's Health Studio, was struck at least 14 times.
The judge also said the motivation for the attack was purely for gain and had involved a "significant degree of premeditation and planning" and that Harding had worn a black coat and gloves in order to provide himself "forensic protection" while committing the murders.
Stephen Linehan QC, prosecuting, said Harding, who lived with his mother and brother and was unemployed, had got into debt with a bank and credit card companies through gambling.
Two months before the killings he had researched the internet looking for information about murder and robbery using search terms such as 'Murder Top Ten' and 'How to Kill Someone.'
Mr Linehan said on July 1 last year Harding, who had previously had sex at Rachael's, travelled from his home to Shrewsbury carrying a holdall with a hammer concealed inside it.
After waiting and ringing the massage parlour to make sure there were no other clients, he went to the premises posing as a customer and then carried out the ferocious attack, repeatedly crashing the hammer onto the victims' heads.
The women, whose bodies were not discovered until the early hours of the next morning, suffered massive head and brain injuries. Harding stole the day's takings of £330 after the killings.
The court heard Harding later confessed to his brother about the killing saying he had hoped to get "a couple of grand" from the robbery.