Thetford: Lodger jailed for life for murder of Ronald Beacham

A LODGER was today jailed for life after being found guilty of carrying out an unprovoked attack on a pensioner causing him to suffer a fatal heart attack.

Michael “Mick” O’Leary, 57, was told he must serve a minimum of 13 and half years before being considered for release after he was convicted of murdering Ronald Beacham, 66, in an unprovoked attack.

Norwich Crown Court heard O’Leary had been lodging at the home in Fir Road, Thetford, of Kassandra Fisk, a close friend of Mr Beacham, and the three returned there after a night out at the ex-servicemen’s club in the town, when O’Leary attacked Mr Beacham.

O’Leary repeatedly kicked Mr Beacham in the head, which then caused him to suffer a fatal heart attack.

Mr Beacham, of Ulfkell Road, Thetford, who for many years ran the Pine Close Club in the town, was unconscious when paramedics arrived. He was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, but never regained consciousness.

O’Leary denied murder and tried to claim he did nothing and Mr Beacham fell over.

The jury took just over 10 hours to convict him of the murder.

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The prosecution then told them about O’Leary’s previous convictions for violence including a three-year sentence in 1977 for a pub attack in London, in which he glassed someone in the face and hit someone with an iron bar.

Andrew Shaw, prosecuting, said in impact statements Mrs Fisk said the incident had left her suffering nightmares and panic attacks and the family of Mr Beacham spoke of how his death had devastated their lives.

One of his daughters said that when she saw him in hospital she wondered how anyone could have done this to her dad who was such a “loving, quiet and caring person.”

Jailing O’Leary for life and recommending that he serve a minimum of 13 and a half years, Judge Peter Jacobs told him that when he took drink he acted in a violent manner.

“You started to behave in a loud and aggressive manner. You were offensive to bar staff. You were using obscenities. It was quite clear when in drink you became very antagonistic towards Mr Beacham.”

He said O’Leary also tried to have a fight with the taxi driver who gave them a lift back from the club and, once back at Mrs Fisk’s home, he attacked Mr Beacham.

“He had not behaved violently towards you at all,” the judge added. “You pulled him to the floor and you kicked him.”

He said Mr Beacham suffered fractures to his face in a “sustained and vicious attack”, adding: “As a result of that attack this unfortunate man who had done nothing to you, died.”

Michael Magarian QC, for O’Leary, said there had been no intention to kill Mr Beacham and no pre-meditation.

He said O’Leary was at a low ebb at the time having just split from his partner and though he had a criminal record, it was not a serious one.

Afterwards Det Insp Stuart Chapman of Norfolk police, said: “This was an unprovoked assault which led to the death of Ronald Beacham.”

“O’Leary appears to have become increasingly aggressive during the evening before setting upon Mr Beacham for no reason. There is no excuse for the level of violence used. Within a matter of minutes O’Leary had kicked and beaten him so badly that he would not recover.

“His actions have robbed children of a grandfather and great-grandfather and an innocent man of his retirement years.”

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