Killer must serve 16 years

A 48-YEAR-old man has been told he must serve 16 years in prison for the murder of a Great Yarmouth grandfather following an attack described by a judge as “spontaneous but sustained.

A 48-YEAR-old man has been told he must serve 16 years in prison for the murder of a Great Yarmouth grandfather following an attack described by a judge as “spontaneous but sustained.”

Judge Peter Jacobs sentenced Paul Slack, of no fixed address, to life at Norwich Crown Court yesterday with a minimum 16 years before he is considered for parole for murdering Alan Bowles at his Yarmouth Way flat. Slack was found guilty on Wednesday.

A post-mortem examination revealed Mr Bowles had suffered five fractured ribs, numerous bruises and been smothered - but eventually died when his own walking stick was rammed more than eight inches into his windpipe. The weapon was removed and thrown into the nearby river and has never been recovered.

Kathleen Johnson, 58, of no fixed address, was jailed for three years having previously been found guilty of manslaughter.

David Comer, 40 of Broad Row, Yarmouth, was found not guilty of murder and not guilty of manslaughter, however he had previously pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice. He is due to be sentenced at a later date. All three had denied murder.

In mitigation, Simon Spence said: “The victim was not particularly vulnerable by virtue of his age - there is no suggestion he suffered from a significant disability or infirmity.”

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Mr Bowles, 64, was discovered dead in his home on May 28, 2007, by a CID officer who had forced entry into the flat and a murder investigation involving 40 officers was immediately launched.

During the trial the court heard that Slack had befriended Mr Bowles and moved into his flat and Comer and Johnson were regular visitors.

Police were led to Slack, Johnson and Comer after Slack had told several people that he had killed Mr Bowles. Slack was arrested by police in Haverhill, Suffolk, while Comer and Johnson were arrested in Yarmouth. The three suspects were questioned and later charged with Mr Bowles' murder.

Mr Bowles, a father-of-two, was born and bred in Yarmouth, and worked as a bricklayer and dustman. He had separated from his wife many years earlier but had gone on to form a new long-term relationship. During the trial Mr Bowles was described as a loving grandfather who had a bubbly character and cared deeply for his family.

His daughter Lisa Recber, 37, said: “Our dad was much loved by my brother and I and his three grand-daughters and we miss him very much.

“Although nothing will bring our dad back, we feel justice has been done and now want to move on from what has been an extremely distressing time for our family.”

Officers from Yarmouth's CID and Norfolk Constabulary's Major Investigation Team spent 12 months preparing a case for crown court which involved 132 witness statements.

Senior investigating officer Det Insp Andy Guy said: “While we know who was in the flat at the time of Alan's death and the outline of what happened, the only people who know exactly what went on were the three defendants and Alan.

“Johnson has admitted she struck Alan prior to his death and Slack admits putting a pillow over Alan's face and the walking stick in Alan's mouth. Comer went back to the flat after the murder and took the murder weapon and disposed of it in the river.

“There is evidence which suggests that Alan was abused in his own home by Slack. Shortly before he died he had £50 taken from him. Alan was not a healthy man and experienced a fairly unpleasant existence. He was alcohol dependant but nobody deserves the indignity of being murdered in his own home in such a violent manner.”