Thursday, January 31, 2013
A Norwich couple shouted abuse at each other in court as they were found guilty of killing pensioner Barry Reeve.
Civil partners Kelly Barnes, 32 and Jodie Barnes, formerly Ramsbottom, 31, of Bixley Close, were today both convicted of killing the 67-year-old, whose body was discovered at his home address in Corton Road in Norwich on February 26 2012.
A jury of eight women and four men gave its unanimous verdict shortly after noon.
Judge Peter Jacobs told the pair they would serve a minimum 24 years in prison and wouldn’t be considered for parole until 2037 at the earliest.
Members of Mr Reeve’s family burst into tears at the verdict, and some of the female members of the jury were also crying.
As the couple were being led from the dock, Kelly Barnes turned on her partner, shouting and swearing at her, while Jodie Barnes mouthed “I did not do it” to her family in the court.
The couple’s confrontation could be heard through the court walls as they were taken down to the cells.
Afterwards, Mr Reeve’s daughter Julie said: “It has broken my heart what they did to my father. They tortured and killed him and then did not have the decency to even plead guilty, to spare us this.”
In a statement, the Reeve family said: “Our father was a private, quiet man who was friendly and welcoming to everyone he knew. He enjoyed photography, plane spotting, fishing and playing cribbage. He also enjoyed working, for a time, helping with the car parking at the local football club.
“As a family we were deeply shocked and distressed by what happened and the consequences for both of us, his son and daughter and his grandchildren.
“Our family could not be happier with the verdict, however, no amount of time these women spend in prison will change what happened and bring back our lovely little dad.
“We would like to express our gratitude to Norfolk Constabulary for all their hard work and support especially our family liaison officer who has been there for us since this ordeal began. We would also like to thank friends, family and Victim Support for their support given, in what has been the worst imaginable year of our lives.
“The whole court process has been a very emotional time, however, we look upon this as closure and now need to concentrate on our grieving and learning to live our lives without Dad whilst trying to come to terms with the awful circumstances in which he was taken from us.”
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Guy, from the Norfolk and Suffolk Joint Major Investigation Team, welcomed the conviction.
He said: “Murder is thankfully a rare crime in Norfolk and Suffolk. Even more unusual is the fact that this crime was committed by two young women who clearly were prepared to inflict injuries on an elderly man in order to obtain his PIN number.
“It is beyond comprehension that the pair returned to Barry’s home whilst he was dying on the floor in order to steal further items from him.”
A post mortem showed Mr Reeve had died from hypothermia brought on as a result of a skull fracture and multiple other injuries to his body including two slash wounds to the abdomen, lacerations to the cheeks and forehead and five fractured ribs.
He had probably been dead for at least two weeks before his body was discovered.
The last known sightings of Mr Reeve, a retired First Eastern bus conductor, had been at The Busman’s Club in Rouen Road in the early afternoon of Thursday, February 9 and later on in Castle Meadow, as it was getting dark.
He was due to attend a cribbage match at a local pub later that evening and never arrived.
A woman, thought to be Kelly Barnes, answered Barry’s mobile number and told the caller that the phone had a new owner and she had bought it on Wednesday, February 8.
Officers had arrived at Corton Road to find Mr Reeve’s body face-down in the sitting room, close to the hallway entrance. There were no signs of a break-in, although drawers had been emptied and bloody footprints were found in the kitchen.
It is believed that Mr Reeve had been severely beaten by the couple and then left there to die.
It was later revealed that his electricity card had expired and when electricity was restored to the address, the TV came on at a very high volume.
There were also a number of newspapers by the door and the milk on the doorstep had expired on February 17.
Following the discovery of his body, his mobile phone, wallet and other items were recovered from the home address of Kelly and Jodie Barnes.
DNA samples obtained from heavily bloodstained jogging bottoms and boots belonging to Jodie and trainers taken from Kelly, showed traces of Barry’s blood. The shoes worn by both were also matched to shoe prints found in blood in Mr Reeve’s house.
During interview neither Kelly nor Jodie admitted any involvement although the court heard how a taxi driver had taken them back to the Corton Road property on Thursday, February 9, where they removed several bags of property before heading to a cash point. Both later admitted they were present when Mr Reeve was attacked but each blamed the other.
CCTV images, used as evidence at the trial, shows them making several attempts to withdraw money from a cash machine using Mr Reeve’s debit card.
For a five-page special into the case see tomorrow’s paper.