The Western Mail (England), Nov. 9, 2002
A self-confessed devil worshipper murdered and raped his neighbour after a row over the cult TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Richard Cullen, 44, taped Elizabeth Sims-Rees’s hands together and repeatedly smashed her head with a rubber mallet.
Then he throttled her with a shirt, before carrying the 21-year-old upstairs and raping her.
Swansea Crown Court heard yesterday the attack started while they were watching television together at Cullen’s home in Townhill, Swansea.
A row began over one of the characters in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, 25.
James Jenkins, prosecuting, said, “He made an appreciative comment about one of the characters, and she told him it was a `noncey’ choice.
“That comment resulted in lengthy and protracted violence which resulted in her death.”
When Mr Justice Richards sentenced Cullen to life in jail, spectators in the public gallery applauded and Elizabeth’s mother, Sharon Harlow, shouted, “You’re scum for what you did to that little girl.” During a police interview, Cullen, an amateur photographer, claimed Elizabeth had found photos of him, including some of him dressed as a woman. He became obsessed with thoughts she was blackmailing him.
“He believed she was mixed up with the local drugs scene and felt threatened by the people she was involved with,” said Mr Jenkins.
“But I hasten to add that the post-mortem carried out on her body only showed the slightest traces of alcohol and no drugs whatsoever.”
The court was told that after the murder, Cullen sat downstairs until the following morning. Then he disposed of the mallett.
Later that day, June 23, he walked into a Swansea police station and told officers, “I have killed a young woman.” Police found her body on his bedroom floor with the shirt still around her neck. A T-shirt had been put over her head.
Mr Jenkins added that Cullen had spoken with “alarming frankness and clarity” about the murder.
He said Elizabeth was, at that time, at one of the lowest points of her life .
“But after spending most of her childhood in foster homes, she was back on good terms with her family and they were helping her to pull through.”
Mr Justice Richards told Cullen, “The circumstances surrounding this murder are totally appalling and you are clearly a menace to society.
“I sentence you to life in prison and in making my recommendations as to a minimum sentence I will take into consideration the co-operation you have given during this investigation.
Cullen had admitted murder. The court heard that Cullen was jailed for five years in 1990 for arson and possession of a firearm, and again in 1993 for indecent assault and threats to kill.
He had told the woman victim in the indecent assault case about his devil worship, and claimed to have sacrificed dogs in rituals because the species’ name was God spelt backwards.