Great Yarmouth murderer loses bid for freedom

PUBLISHED: 07:52 04 July 2012 | UPDATED: 08:11 04 July 2012

William Rowley, who lost his appeal.

William Rowley, who lost his appeal.

Norfolk police

A Great Yarmouth man serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of a householder on his own doorstep lost his Court of Appeal bid for freedom.

William Rowley, 33, has always denied killing 52-year-old Archie Kerr, who died after he was subjected to an assault in Deneside, in January 2010.

But following his conviction for murder at Norwich Crown Court in March last year, Rowley, of Ordnance Road, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 17 years to serve.

Last month, he took his case to London in a bid to clear his name, but this week saw his case rejected when top judges returned to deliver their judgment.

Appeal judge, Lord Justice Moore-Bick, said the trial judge was right to exclude some of the evidence which Rowley claimed backed up his defence case.

The trial heard Mr Kerr had been drinking with Rowley and another man in a Yarmouth nightclub before Rowley later attacked him on the doorstep of his home.

Prosecutors said Mr Kerr suffered multiple injuries to the vulnerable area around his head and neck. He died two months later after suffering complications in hospital.

Rowley’s defence case was that he had hit Mr Kerr once, then walked away and had never intended to cause the victim any serious injury.

At the trial, his legal team applied to adduce evidence of comments made in a police interview by a witness, Lee Taylor, who confirmed seeing Rowley hit Mr Kerr once.

But the judge refused to admit the evidence of Mr Taylor, who, having received a menacing text message from Rowley, had left the country and not been found.

In his appeal, Rowley’s barrister, Simon Spence QC, argued that the judge’s ruling was wrong because there was insufficient evidence to support his view that Mr Taylor’s absence was caused by the text message.

Giving his judgment, Lord Justice Moore-Bick, who heard the appeal with Mr Justice Kenneth Parker and Judge James Goss QC, rejected the argument.

“The purpose of the text message was to warn Taylor that he should not give an account of the events of that night that might incriminate the appellant and that, if he did so, the appellant would take his revenge,” he said.

“That was not limited to any account he might give to the police but was intended to be understood, and we have no doubt was understood, as extending to giving evidence against the appellant in any proceedings that might ensue.

“The only question of importance is whether the acts were done in order to prevent the attendance of the witness at the proceedings.

“In the present case, the judge was entitled to find that the text message was sent for that purpose and that its effect persisted up to and indeed beyond the time when Taylor left the country.

“For those reasons, we are satisfied that the judge’s findings of fact cannot be impugned and that he was right to hold the statements made by Taylor to the police in interview were not admissible in support of the appellant’s case.

“The appeal must therefore be dismissed.”

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