Five months after killing Pune student Anuj Bidve in cold blood, a 21-year-old man from northern England on Friday admitted to manslaughter but pleaded diminished responsibility, setting in motion a trial that could hear him seek psychiatric treatment in a bid to avoid jail.
Kiaran Stapleton admitted to the December 26 killing as he appeared before a judge in Manchester. He murdered Bidve, a 23-year-old engineering student at Lancaster University, after walking up to him and shooting him point blank in the head.
Bidve, an exemplary student, was shopping for Christmas sales with a group of Indian friends and returning to their hotel after midnight when Stapleton killed him in Oldsall, a Manchester suburb.
On Friday, the plea of diminished responsibility by a man who calls himself 'Psycho Stapleton' was rejected by police, who think he was in full control of his senses when he murdered Bidve.
If Stapleton had pleaded guilty to murder, he would have been sentenced swiftly. Instead, his plea of diminished responsibility means a jury will now hear his defence in a trial that will begin on June 25 and could last around 12 days.
If the jury upholds his plea, Stapleton could be sent to a psychiatric ward rather than jail. But to do that, the jury will need convincing that Stapleton has a history of insanity. On the other hand, the police will trawl through its records to find out if the man has a criminal past.
Bidve's parents Subhash and Yogini, who were present at the hearing on Friday, said, "This is the first time we have returned to the UK since Anuj was taken away from us, 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."
"To see Anuj's killer brought to justice will bring this tragic case to a close," said Indian-origin MP Keith Vaz. "I hope that a swift and fair trial will demonstrate that Britain is a safe place to live and study."