Dudley man starting life sentence for savage killing of best friend

2:26pm Monday 17th December 2012

A 39 YEAR-old Dudley man has started a life jail sentence after savagely battering his best friend to death with a hammer in a "ferocious and frenzied" attack.

Judge John Warner ruled William Spence must stay behind bars for a minimum of 17 years for the murder of "vulnerable" Kevin Jones who was defenceless on the floor as he was repeatedly struck with the hammer.

He said Kevin’s mother, 74 year-old Jean Jones, not only had to witness the "horrific" killing of her son but she also sustained her own injuries at the hands of Spence.

The pensioner threw herself across the body of her son in a desperate bid to protect him from further blows and was hit herself on the ankle and leg.

The Wolverhampton Crown Court judge said it was clear both Spence and Mr Jones had mental health, drink and drug problems and the killing followed a heated argument between the two men.

Kevin Jones, aged 47, was a "nervous" man who only went out with Spence and died from brain injuries as a result of the brutal attack with the heavy tool.

Spence who had been living with Mr Jones and his mother at their home in Buxton Road, Woodside had pleaded not guilty to murdering his friend.

He also denied assaulting Mrs Jones - a woman he "wished had been his own mother" - causing her actual bodily harm in the incident on Bonfire Night last year.

But the eight man-four woman jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts on both charges after retiring for just over three-and-a-half hours to consider the evidence at the end of his two week trial.

Following the hearing, Detective sergeant Harry May, the senior investigating officer in the case said: "Kevin's mother endured the horror of seeing her son being attacked with the hammer and she lay across his body to try and protect him."

He added “There was nothing she could do to save her son and she saw him slip away in her arms, an ordeal which no parent should ever have to go through.

"Spence has shown no remorse to his once loyal friend since that day and he has put Jean through the ordeal of this trial.

"Today my thoughts go out to Jean and her family, hoping that they can take some comfort that justice has been done here today and start to rebuild their lives.”

Paul Reid prosecuting said that in a victim impact statement Mrs Jones described how she had supported her son through his "various problems" and had suffered the trauma of seeing him murdered in the family home.

The killing had left her feeling extremely nervous and she now jumped at the slightest thing including the telephone ringing.

Andrew Fisher QC defending Spence, who showed no reaction as he was sentenced, said the jury had accepted he had not been psychotic at the time of the killing.

Spence, he said, had never disputed the fact he killed his best friend and while there had been a degree of provocation it was against a background of mental problems.

In evidence to the jury Spence, whose previous convictions for violence included a machete attack on a man in 2003, said he had been kicked and punched by Mr Jones and “just lost it” after fetching the hammer from under Mr Jones’ bed.

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