Killers of homeless man in Colchester branded “despicable” by police

Darren Miller and Mark Hartley, who have been convicted of murdering Martin Dines Picture: ESSEX POL

Darren Miller and Mark Hartley, who have been convicted of murdering Martin Dines Picture: ESSEX POLICE - Credit: ESSEX POLICE

Three people responsible for kiling a homeless man in Colchester were today branded as “despicable” by a senior detective.

Senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Stephen Jennings, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, was speaking after Heidi Kennedy, 47, of Queen Elizabeth Way, Colchester, was convicted of manslaughter.

She had denied murdering 56-year-old Martin Dines, whose body was found at St Mary’s car park in Balkerne Hill, Colchester on April 23, at Ipswich Crown Court.

She was cleared of murder by a jury after 17 hours of deliberations but was convicted by a 10-2 majority verdict of a less serious charge of manslaughter.

Also before the court were Mark Hartley, 32, of New Kiln Road, Colchester, and Darren Miller, 46, of no fixed address, who denied murdering Mr Dines but were unanimously found guilty by the jury on Thursday.

All three defendants have been remanded in custody and will be sentenced on January 11.

Speaking after the verdicts, Det Supt Jennings said: “This was a savage attack on a man who was already incredibly vulnerable and the three individuals responsible for Mr Dines’ death took to the stand and blamed each other in a cowardly attempt to thwart justice.

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“They spent that Saturday drinking cheap alcohol in Colchester town centre and took part in a twisted turn of events, the catalyst being Hartley’s anger against Mr Dines for calling him a ‘fake para’.

“Hartley - who had regularly and fraudulently boasted about having served in the Parachute Regiment – went with Kennedy and Miller and sought out Mr Dines with the chilling intention of using violence as retribution.

“We know that Hartley had served in the Scots Guards for a short term, but had been dismissed after he was caught taking cocaine.

“Nothing can ever justify the taking of a life and these three despicable individuals followed a sinister path that evening which led to Mr Dines’ death.

“The jury were asked to consider the harrowing details of his last hours and his father - who attended court - also had to endure hearing the brutal attack his son was subjected to.

“The jury were also shown pictures of Mr Dines’ body and the injuries inflicted on him and I would like to thank them for their resilience and commitment during the trial.”

Martin’s father, Brian Dines, said: “Martin will be sorely missed by all his family and friends.

“Now every time we would like to see him, the reality kicks in that he is no longer with us.

“Nobody deserves to have their life end in such a heart-breaking way.

“I would like to say thanks for all of the wonderful comfort and support we received from the police, court room ushers and our lovely friends and family, which made the terrible things I heard in court just a bit more bearable.”

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