Man jailed for killing his best friend in drug-induced attack

Samuel Donley
Samuel Donley

A man has today been jailed for six years and eight months for killing his best friend.

He was also handed a 32-month concurrent jail term for attacking another man in the street.

Liam Miller

Liam Miller

Samuel Frederick Donley, 20, of Hamilton Drive West, York, stabbed 20-year-old Liam Miller 32 times on the night of 27 July this year. Liam, from Terrington near Malton, died despite the courageous efforts of neighbours, paramedics and police who gave medical assistance at the scene.

Donley was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of Liam and to causing grievous bodily harm to a 60-year-old York man.

Liam Miller and Samuel Donley were good friends, and on the night of 27 July, while Donley’s parents where away, they decided to experiment after both expressing an interest in using hallucinogenic drugs.

They both took the drug 25i-NBOMe early in the evening and began to record their feelings and experiences as the effects of the drug took hold.

Later that night, in a horrific and violent attack, Donley killed Liam while under the influence of the drug. No motive for the attack has been established and the conclusion is that Donley killed Liam during a psychotic episode brought on by the drug.

As Liam lay fatally injured in the driveway of Donley’s home, a 60-year-old man stopped to help, believing someone had suffered a seizure. After comprehending the events that were actually taking place, the man ran from the scene in fear for his life, closely followed by Donley who caught up with him and attacked him several times with a knife.

At the same time, Donley’s neighbours were disturbed by the noise and came out to see what was happening. On realising the situation, one immediately administered first aid to Liam. The other ran after Donley, preventing him from inflicting further harm to the man. He made Donley return to the house and shut him inside, all the while holding on to the door to prevent Donley from escaping and attacking anyone else.

When the emergency services arrived at the scene, Donley was arrested following a violent confrontation with police officers.

Detective Inspector Mark Pearson of North Yorkshire Police’s Major Crime Unit, said: “This case is one of absolute tragedy brought about through the use of illegal drugs. What started out as two best friends enjoying a night together, has ended in catastrophic circumstances.

“Liam Miller’s promising life has been cut short. Sam Donley is facing several years in prison and has to live with the fact that he has killed his best friend. If ever there was a stark reminder of the dangers in taking drugs - this is it.

“Our thoughts remain with Liam’s family who have been utterly devastated by his death yet have shown great dignity throughout the investigation.”

Det Insp Pearson added: “I must also acknowledge the actions of both the second victim who stopped to help, only to find himself on the receiving end of Donley’s frenzied attack, and the two neighbours who attended to Liam and ensured Donley was confined to the house once they persuaded him to return. They put their own life in danger and are to be commended for their quick thinking which potentially saved further tragedy.”

Family statement

From Liam’s father, brother and sister and their partners and Liam’s nephew.

“It is impossible to find the words to describe how we feel about Liam’s death. He is the first thing we think about in the morning and the last thing we think about at night. It is hard to accept that he had his whole life in front of him. It was such a waste of life and he didn’t deserve what happened. Without any doubt, this is the hardest and most painful experience any human being will have to go through.

“It is very difficult for us to put into words or express how we feel or what we wanted the outcome to be. We know that nothing can ever bring him back. Nothing is going to make up for the suffering our family and friends have had to deal with over the last few months.”