Former Norwich bus conductor brutally attacked by two women, tortured and left to die in own home, court hears
PUBLISHED: 12:09 09 January 2013 | UPDATED: 15:01 09 January 2013
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This is a picture of the two women alleged to have brutally beaten and tortured a former bus conductor before stealing his bank card and leaving him to die in his own home about two weeks before his body was discovered.
Kelly Louise Barnes, 32, and Jodie Barnes, formerly Ramsbottom, 31, who are civil partners, are accused of attacking and torturing 67-year-old Barry Reeve in a bid to get him to reveal his pin number so they could feed their drink and drug habits.
The couple from Bixley Close, Norwich, who both deny murder, have gone on trial at Norwich Crown Court after the body of Mr Reeve, a former Eastern Counties Buses worker, was found by officers who were called to a property on Corton Road, off City Road, Norwich, on Sunday, February 26.
Karim Khalil QC, prosecuting, said the discovery was made about two weeks after he had been attacked, tortured and left to die in the bungalow where he lived alone.
He said: “I say he was murdered on or about February 9 because it is certain he was brutally beaten, cut with a sharp blade and left to die in his home, unable to summon help. It is a sad fact that he was not found until two weeks later when his daughter, Julie Reeve, called round. She found the back door unlocked, opened it and saw blood on the inner door.
“She decided not to go in any further and called on a neighbour. Together they went back, called for him but got no answer and decided to call the emergency services.”
A post-mortem examination showed that Mr Reeve, known to friends as Schweppes or Titch because of his small stature, died from a severe head injury and was alive for between 15 and 48 hours after suffering brain injuries.
The head injury could have been caused by multiple impacts with fists, shod feet, or other blunt implements while Mr Reeve, who also suffered a number of rib fractures, had several bruises cuts and scores to parts of his body including face, chest, abdomen arms and wrists.
Mr Khalil said Mr Reeve’s television was found to have been turned up loud which could have been an attempt to disguise the sounds of the attack.
The court heard Mr Reeve lived off a pension and benefits but was heard talking about having large sums of money, once claiming that he carried around £2,000 in cash.
Mr Khalil said the motive “seems to have been financial” with the couple seemingly having tortured Mr Reeve so he would reveal his bank card pin as “there’s evidence a series of failed attempts were made that evening to use his bank card in a nearby ATM”.
The eight women and four men of the jury were told the defendants later returned to Mr Reeve’s home in a taxi and cleared out what items they wanted, including foodstuffs from his freezer, before making further attempts to use his card and returning home.
Mr Khalil said Mr Reeve, who kept in touch with many of his former colleagues through the canteen in the basement of Rouen House on Rouen Road, had been there on February 9 which was the last day he signed in there.
Mr Reeve, who played cribbage at the Trowel and Hammer pub in St Stephens Road, had a match on February 9 but did not show up and did not answer his mobile when contacted by Michael Critten who runs the team.
When he called on February 11 the phone was answered by a woman who referred to Mr Critten as “chap” or “my man” and said: “It’s not who you think it is. I bought this phone a few days ago.”
She went on to say that she had bought it from a couple of men in the street, he pressed her for more information and she said it was the Wednesday the day before Mr Reeve was killed.
Mr Critten found the whole account rather suspicious and phoned a friend who also called Mr Reeve on February 11 but the mobile was again answered by a woman.
Mr Khalil said: “The prosecution say that on February 9 both of these defendants went together to Barry Reeve’s home and went together on two occasions. The first time they went in there he was alive and well. They plainly searched his property and assaulted him violently, effectively torturing him, no doubt hoping to get his PIN number for the bank card they had found. They beat him so severely that he was left for dead.”
“It is plain that for the whole of that they were acting together in everything they did. We say their time with Barry Reeve was no different.”
Mr Khalil said in these circumstances it does not matter which of the defendants inflicted which injury because they as part of a “joint enterprise” were “in it together”.
He added they injured him “in such varied and awful ways” it was “obvious” they intended to cause him really serious harm or kill him and so were both guilty of murder.
The trial continues.
Victim’s daughter gives evidence
The daughter of Barry Reeve told how she felt “uncomfortable” after having bumped into both defendants “in a cruel twist of fate” on the day her father was allegedly killed.
Julie Reeve is a contact supervisor with children’s services at the county council, who helps arrange visits between children no longer living with their parents.
She had been working at Richmond House on Queens Road, Norwich, on February 9 last year where Kelly Louise Barnes was due to visit her four children, who she had recently been separated from following a court order, together with her partner Jodie Barnes, formerly Ramsbottom, sometime between 3.45pm and 5.15pm.
But the two defendants who had been at the Rose pub were late for their appointment and came across Miss Reeve, who had finished work, and asked her where Richmond House was.
Miss Reeve, who is also a volunteer on Norwich’s SOS Bus, said she told the defendants, who claimed they had been walking up and down the street for two hours trying to find it, pointed across the road before stating “I think it’s there, but I think it’s closed”.
Norwich Crown Court heard she did not want them to know she was connected with Richmond House because their “general demeanour” made her “feel uncomfortable”.
She then went to her car, locked the doors and contacted a colleague to tell them about the encounter before driving off.
Miss Reeve also told the jury how, on February 26, she visited her father to see if she could park her car as she had a couple if visits to make in the area.
Miss Reeve said she went round the back of the house found the door open and walked in.
She said she was calling “dad” but got no response and went in where she had seen an internal door was ajar.
The court heard Miss Reeve, who was still getting no response, held the handle of door but did not go in as she had seen blood on the door.
She then went to get a neighbour before returning to the property where they both entered but still got no response. They went no further and Miss Reeve, who was “anxious” called the emergency services.