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Widow's life destroyed by killer who murdered her husband just yards from home

PUBLISHED: 07:00 25 May 2012

Keith Needell - the last of Ali Koc's victims

Keith Needell - the last of Ali Koc's victims

Archant

The widow of a Highgate pensioner has told of how her life has been destroyed by a double-murderer who beat her husband to death just yards from their house.

Keith Needell, an 84-year-old retired quantity surveyor, was on his way home through Queen’s Wood in Muswell Hill when he was viciously attacked by Ali Koc on January 31 last year.

It was the last in a series of attacks by Koc in Alexandra Park, Priory Park, Queen’s Wood and Downhills Park.

Mr Needell, who had been out volunteering at a museum in central London, was brutally beaten and left for dead on the ground of a secluded pathway less half a mile from his home in Wood Vale, Muswell Hill.

The Turkish-born killer had already attacked six other men walking in woodlands in a 26-day reign of terror.

Mr Needell’s wife Mary held vigil by his bedside as her husband fought to recover at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead. She spent their 57th wedding anniversary by his hospital bed.

“It grieves me immensely when memories and pictures return so frequently each day of my husband lying so helpless and bewildered in hospital,” she said.

“The family and I could never understand what he was trying to say until six days before he died. He suddenly said in his usual normal voice: ‘Is anyone coming to supper tonight?’

“‘No’, I replied. He said: ‘You’ll be alone then?’

“‘Yes that’s right,’ and then suddenly he returned to the incomprehensible noises he had made for the previous six months.”

Mr Needell never recovered from his head wounds and died on July 16 after catching pneumonia.

His son John Needell, who attended some of the five-week trial, said he found it difficult to understand how his father and Koc could be “part of the same species”.

He said: “This has destroyed my mum they were happily married for 57 years. Their last wedding anniversary was spent sat by his hospital bed, unable to share this precious event given the injuries he had suffered.”

The attack was the last in a spate of brutal beatings in which 30-year-old Koc, from Lightfoot Road in Hornsey, stalked wooded areas in January last year.

Communities in Highgate, Muswell Hill and Crouch End were gripped with by a “deep anxiety” as the attacks continued, according to Judge Mr Justice Calvert-Smith.

Koc, who wore what one victim called a “thousand-yard stare” during the attacks, would pounce on lone walkers and joggers, beating them with lumps of wood, head-butting, punching and kicking his victims – in two cases leaving them for dead.

Victor Parsons, a member of the Wood Green Labour Party, was the first to be targeted on January 5 when he set off for his regular walk in Alexandra Park.

The 67-year-old’s jaw and eye socket were fractured when Koc attacked him, wielding a stick shaped like a caveman’s club.

Mr Parsons never regained consciousness and died at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel on February 25.

Koc, who would stroll away with “brisk swagger” following the beatings, attacked five others aged between 22 and 63, including a solicitor and a scientist.

He was jailed for a minimum of 35 years on Thursday (May 17) for two counts of murder and five counts of greivous bodily harm.

Mr Justice Calvert-Smith said: “This was a brutal campaign of violence carried out for the sake of showing you could intimidate and hurt other human beings.”

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