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Family of man murdered in city knife attack call for tougher sentences

PUBLISHED: 06:30 12 June 2019

Roland Heinbergs and the scene of the murder on Rose Lane. Photo: Police

Roland Heinbergs and the scene of the murder on Rose Lane. Photo: Police

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The children of a man who was stabbed to death by a killer just weeks after he had been spared jail for possessing knives have led calls for tougher sentences for those who carry blades on the streets.

David Hastings’ son, Kyle, left, and daughter, Kimberley, right, speaking outside court after Rolands Heinbergs was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of their father in Norwich in June last year.David Hastings’ son, Kyle, left, and daughter, Kimberley, right, speaking outside court after Rolands Heinbergs was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of their father in Norwich in June last year.

David Hastings, 48, was knifed in his back, chest, neck and mouth, while walking away from Norwich's Rose Lane car park with his girlfriend in the early hours of June 23, last year.

Norwich Crown Court heard Mr Hastings, formerly of Long Row, Norwich, suffered a total of 13 stab wounds, including a fatal one to the heart, as well as a number of other potentially fatal wounds in the savage attack by complete stranger Rolands Heinbergs.

Heinbergs, 23, of no fixed address, had denied murder but was convicted of the killing in less than an hour by the jury of five men and seven women.

It has emerged that Heinbergs had been serving a suspended sentence for possession of knives at the time of the fatal attack.

Body worn video footage shows Heinbergs admitting to the murder to police shortly after being arrested. Picture: Norfolk ConstabularyBody worn video footage shows Heinbergs admitting to the murder to police shortly after being arrested. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

He had been dealt with by city magistrates just three weeks before the murder and given a four-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, following the offences in Thetford on May 7 last year.

Mr Hastings' daughter Kimberley said her father's death had been "really hard to come to terms with", particularly given Heinbergs' previous convictions.

In a moving victim impact statement read out before Heinbergs was sentenced to life imprisonment on Tuesday, (June 11) the 29-year-old said: "The fact that this man was caught with a knife just a few weeks before he killed my dad but was dealt with so leniently is so hard to take.

"Things could be so different if sentences for knife crime were harsher."

Speaking outside court, Mr Hastings' son Kyle, 25, also spoke of his anger.

He said: "Knife crime is obviously a big problem now and how many more lives are going to be lost to knife crime before the government realise this is serious and sentences need to be firm and hard?"

He added: "As soon as you're caught with a knife you should serve some sort of prison time and if you're going to kill someone the death penalty should come your way as well."

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His sister agreed and said outside court that it should be a "life for a life".

The siblings revealed that following this tragic case, they would now be looking to do what they could in a bid about raising awareness about the dangers of knife crime in memory of their much-loved father.

It came after Judge Stephen Holt, who jailed Heinbergs for a minimum of 28 years, said: "You were sentenced three weeks before this murder by magistrates to four months imprisonment suspended for 18 months.

"If ever there was a case that demonstrates that courts must take possession of knives seriously it is this one.

"Had the sentence been immediate imprisonment then you would have not been on the streets that night but locked up in prison."

Judge Holt described Mr Hastings as a "well-loved and gentle person with no enemies".

The judge said there was clear evidence Heinbergs, who smiled and smirked throughout the sentencing hearing, was "stalking" Mr Hastings and had "chosen him as your victim".

He said: "There is no doubt in my mind that on the evidence this was a premeditated attack on an unarmed, defenceless man. You had armed yourself with a knife and were prowling the streets to select a victim to attack."

He said one of the most "chilling" aspects of the murder was that no-one knows why Heinbergs chose Mr Hastings.

Judge Holt added: "This savage and premeditated murder had all the hallmarks of an execution and at no stage have you made any attempt to explain your actions that night in taking the life of an innocent and decent man."

Wayne Cleaver, prosecuting, said it was a clear case of murder and described it as an "horrific" attack on a complete stranger.

Andrew Oliver, for Heinbergs, said the events of this "tragic night" was more to do with "impulsivity" than any degree of planning.

Speaking after the case, temporary Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Chapman said: "This was such a shocking and appalling crime committed by Heinbergs and one where he has shown absolutely no remorse."

He added the sentence will ensure he remains off any street for a very long time.

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