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‘A good man who had a troubled life’ - Three jailed for Colchester murder

11 January, 2019 - 19:13
Murder victim Martin Dines, 56, from Colchester. Picture: PROVIDED BY FAMILY

Murder victim Martin Dines, 56, from Colchester. Picture: PROVIDED BY FAMILY

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The family of a homeless Colchester man murdered in a “cruel, cowardly and senseless” attack have spoken of his kindness after his killers were jailed at Ipswich Crown Court.

Jailed for life with a minimum sentence each of 23 years - Darren Miller and Mark Hartley. Picture: ESSEX POLICEJailed for life with a minimum sentence each of 23 years - Darren Miller and Mark Hartley. Picture: ESSEX POLICE

Martin Dines was repeatedly punched, kicked and stamped on before being left to die in the stairwell of a multi-storey car park in Colchester in April 2018.

As three people were jailed for his death, his brother, David Dines, paid tribute to him.

He said: “Martin was a good man, who had a troubled life. He struggled with alcoholism for a lot of his life but came through it. He turned his life around and settled down.

“He gave up drink all by himself. He was stubborn but in a good way, he didn’t accept anything from anyone else. But for whatever reason, he fell off the rails again.

Heidi Kennedy was sentenced to five years in prison for the manslaughter of Martin Dines. Picture: ESSEX POLICEHeidi Kennedy was sentenced to five years in prison for the manslaughter of Martin Dines. Picture: ESSEX POLICE

“He was really kind and thoughtful, he’d help my mum and dad as much as he could. He was especially close with my mum and we will miss him. He was fantastic company to be around, he would talk to anyone.”

Mr Dines’ killers, Mark Hartley, 32, of New Kiln Road, Colchester and Darren Miller, 46, of no fixed address, denied murdering him but were unanimously convicted by a jury after a six-week trial.

Mother-of-two Heidi Kennedy, 47, of Queen Elizabeth Way, Colchester, was cleared of murdering Mr Dines but convicted of manslaughter by a majority verdict.

All three were sentenced on Friday January 11. Hartley and Millar were jailed for life with a minimum of 23 years each. Kennedy was jailed for five years.

Martin Dines was found at St Mary's Car Park on Balkerne Hill and died at the scene Picture: JAKE FOXFORDMartin Dines was found at St Mary's Car Park on Balkerne Hill and died at the scene Picture: JAKE FOXFORD

Sentencing, Judge Martyn Levett described the attack on Mr Dines in a car park stairwell in Balkerne Hill- which was his “only home and resting place” - as “brutal and unnecessary.”

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.”

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.

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.

In a statement read to the court during the sentencing hearing, Mr Dines’ brother David described his killing as “cruel, cowardly and senseless.”

Mr Dines said his brother was an alcoholic and was ashamed of his alcoholism.

“He was intelligent, friendly and a kind man with lots of talents and was loved by many,” he added.

“He had problems but he was a good man and wouldn’t hurt anyone which makes it so unfair.

“We want Martin to get the justice he deserves.”

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