A 21-year-old “psycho” Briton charged with the unprovoked Boxing Day shooting of Indian student Anuj Bidve in Salford today pleaded guilty to manslaughter,but not guilty to murder.
Bidve’s family members travelled from India to attend the ‘plea and case management hearing’ at the Manchester Crown Court.
Kiaran Stapleton,who at an earlier court hearing in January had described himself as ‘Psycho Stapleton’,entered a plea of “guilty to the manslaughter of Anuj Bidve on the grounds of diminished responsibility,but not guilty to murder.”
The plea was not accepted by the Crown,and there will therefore be a murder trial starting June 25,2012,official sources said.
23-year-old Bidve,a student of Microelectronics at Lancaster University,was walking with friends in Salford when he was shot in the head at close range.
In a statement,the Bidve family today said: “We have made the journey from India to the United Kingdom because it was very important to us to hear,in person,Kiaran Stapleton’s plea”.
They added: “This is the first time we have returned to the UK since Anuj was taken away from us on Boxing Day of last year,and the first time we have come face-to-face with the man charged with his murder,so clearly this is a very emotional and difficult time for us.”
The Bidve family said: “We have today heard in person that Kiaran Stapleton admitted to killing Anuj. We know there is tremendous amount of interest from the media both at home in India and here in the United Kingdom. As there will be a trial later this month,we cannot say anything further at this time and we would ask that the media respect both our privacy and the integrity of the court process.”
Reacting to the guilty plea,senior Labour MP Keith Vaz said: “I welcome Mr Stapleton’s admission of responsibility for this terrible crime. Nothing can lessen the pain of the Bidve family,but to see Anuj’s killer brought to justice will bring this tragic case to a close.”
He added: “I hope that a swift and fair trial will demonstrate to international students across the world that Britain is a safe place to live and study in. Greater Manchester Police should be commended for their prompt and thorough investigation and support for the grieving family.”