Murderers jailed for at least 23 years each over 'brutal' killing of homeless man
PUBLISHED: 17:35 11 January 2019 | UPDATED: 19:14 11 January 2019
Two men who killed a homeless man in a "brutal and unnecessary" attack in Colchester have each been jailed for a minimum of 23 years.
Martin Dines died in the stairwell of St Mary’s car park in Balkerne Hill, Colchester in April last year after a “violent and prolonged attack” during which he was repeatedly punched, kicked and stamped on during a row about military service, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
Mr Dines, 56, had part of his ear bitten off and suffered 73 injuries including horrific wounds to his genitals.
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 convicted by a jury after a six-week trial.
They were both ordered to serve a minimum of 23 years of a mandatory life sentence before they could be considered for early release by the parole board.
Also before the court was mother-of-two Heidi Kennedy, 47, of Queen Elizabeth Way, Colchester, who was cleared of murdering Mr Dines - a charge she denied - but was convicted of a less serious charge of manslaughter by a majority verdict. She was jailed for five years.
Sentencing the defendants, Judge Martyn Levett described the attack on Mr Dines in the car park stairwell - which was his “only home and resting place” - as “brutal and unnecessary.”
He said that during the assault, Mr Dines had begged to be allowed to go to sleep.
Judge Levett said Hartley had been dishonourably discharged from the army for using drugs and had subsequently pretended he had been in the Parachute Regiment.
He said whether or not it was Mr Dines who said Hartley was a “fake para”, Hartley had a sense of grievance against him and wanted to teach him a lesson.
The court heard Mr Dines was attacked twice in Colchester town centre before a final attack in the car park because the defendants thought he’d called Hartley a “fake para”.
Graham Parkins QC, for Kennedy, said she had played a “limited and subordinate” part in the attack and had shown genuine remorse.
Nneke Akudolu, for Miller, said he acknowledged some wrongdoing during the attack on Mr Dines by admitting manslaughter before the trial.
Richard Sutton QC, for Hartley, said his experience in the army had left him scarred and he could be suffering from PTSD.