TWO men have been jailed for life for the brutal murder of a frail pensioner who was tortured and beaten to death at his Landford home in September.

A jury of seven men and five women came to a verdict yesterday morning at end of the fourweek trial of Joby Barney, 25, and 19-year-old John James at Winchester Crown Court.

Reginald Baker, right, who was suffering from terminal cancer and has been described as ‘defenceless as a baby’, was found dead at his Beech Grange home on September 5.

He had suffered horrific injuries including a broken back and neck, 62 fractures to his ribs and extensive deep muscle bruising. The cartilage in his left ear had been smashed and he had stab wounds to the back of his hand and his face.

During the trial pathologist Dr Basil Purdue likened the multiple injuries suffered by the pensioner to those normally only seen in those who had been involved in traffic collisions.

Sentencing Barney to a minimum of 30 years and James 28, Judge John Royce said: “There is no escaping the fact that both of you willinglypursued this sickening, prolonged, callous and vicious attack before leaving this old man dying.

“Thereafter you went out for an evening’s drinking without, it would appear, a care in the world, certainly not a care for him.”

Barney, of Ringwood Road, Alderholt, and James, of London Road, Salisbury, admitted conspiracy to burgle but both denied murder, each blaming the other for inflicting the injuries that killed Mr Baker.

But the jury agreed with the prosecution’s case that the pair were acting together throughout and should be held equally responsible.

The court heard the they forced their way into Mr Baker’s home, looking for cash, and tortured him over a 40-minute period when they didn’t find what they were looking for.

Two other men Daniel Coker, 23, of London Road, and 19-year-old Trevor Gray, of The Friary, Salisbury, who both admitted manslaughter and conspiracy to burgle were waiting for them in a car parked nearby.

After the murder James went into a local shop to change the £80 in coins he’d taken from Mr Baker’s home into notes.

He and Barney got rid of the clothes they had been wearing and then went out drinking.

Coker and Gray are in custody and will be sentenced at a later date.