Peter Walsh, *
Friday, February 1, 2013
Former Norwich bus conductor Barry Reeve, brutally tortured and murdered by two women, has been fondly remembered by his family and friends.
For the past four weeks they have had to relive, in devastating detail, the full horror of what happened to Mr Reeve as his life was brought to a brutal end by two drug and drink fuelled addicts.
Attacked, tortured, left to die and robbed just so Kelly and Jodie Barnes could get enough cash to carry on their illicit binges.
Yesterday, Kelly Barnes, 32, and Jodie Barnes, 31, of Bixley Close, Norwich, were both found guilty of murder and will serve a minimum of 24 years in prison.
No-one deserves to die like that, least of all a 67-year-old man who was so slight he was known as Titch to his friends.
Mr Reeve, who was also referred to as Schweppes, was a father-of-two and grandfather-of-four who lived alone at 68 Clyffe Cottages, Corton Road, off City Road.
He had been at the one bedroom bungalow, part of a complex owned by Broadland Housing Group, since before 2005 and lived a fairly solitary existence.
Neighbours remembered him as a man who would exchange plesantries if they bumped into him but generally “kept himself to himself”.
Rachel Park, a support co-ordinator for Broadland Housing Group said she found Mr Reeve to lead an “isolated life” and often allowed milk bottles and newspapers to accumulate in the property.
Mr Reeve did though venture out of his property to head into the city to visit Norwich Market and the First Bus Canteen at Rouen House on Rouen Road where he enjoyed playing cards with former colleagues.
Although he had worked for the Post Office, at a local garage and as a car park attendant at Norwich City Football Club in the past, it was his career on the buses that he seemed most fond of.
Although he had not worked on the buses for many years Mr Reeve enjoyed meeting up with his former colleagues and was a regular visitor both to Rouen House and the Busmans’ reunion held at the Woolpack pub in Golden Ball Street every year.
Bus colleagues remember him as a “great card player” and in more recent years as a keen photographer who enjoyed taking pictures at the annual reunions.
Ex-bus driver Dennis Hartree, 75, from Long Stratton, who organises the reunions, said he was shocked to learn what Mr Reeve had been subjected to during his fatal ordeal.
He said: “You can’t believe what people can do to other people. He was a nice guy and certainly didn’t deserve this.
“He was fairly popular with the boys on the buses. It’s all the talk up Rouen Road - he was playing cards up there every day. He would get up in the morning and play cards till about 3pm or 4pm and wasn’t any trouble to anyone. He wasn’t a bloke looking for trouble - he was just a normal bloke.”
John Peacock, a driver for First Buses, said: “Many of the older drivers who knew him better than me are deeply shocked about it.
“I think it’s a very sad and regrettable situation. All our thoughts are with his family at this time.
“It’s a great pity because he kept coming back to see us all particularly for the cammeraderie and friendship that he missed so much.
“I think it’s particularly poignant that someone who clearly missed the friendship had such a sad demise.”
Mr Reeve’s love of cards put him back in contact with another former bus coplleague Michael Critten who was also a conductor in the 1970s and who had “enjoyed playing cards with Barry” in the spare time they had.
He had lost contact with Mr Reeve, who also enjoyed fishing and plane spotting, but saw him again about three or four years ago and invited him to come along to the Trowel and Hammer pub in Norwich where he runs a cribbage team.
It soon became a weekly ritual for Mr Reeve who was fondly remembered by those at the pub who still cannot believe the horror of what happened to him in February last year.
Ben Doraj, landlord at the Trowel and Hammer pub, where Mr Reeve played cribbage, said: “He was very quiet and reserved. He always smiled. All the others were laughing and joking, but he was quiet, not much conversation.
“Everyone was shocked, it’s very bad-how can this happen? The police were here with his picture. It was a shock to find out. He was a good guy.”
A regular,who didn’t want to be named, said: “everyone was shocked because he was such a quiet and nice person.
“you think that kind of thing doesn’t happen to anyone but with him it was done. It’s a shock. I just can’t see what he would’ve done to anyone to get attacked like that. That’s how he was- he wouldn’t say boo to a goose.”
In a statement released following the conviction, Mr Reeve’s children, including daughter Julie, a supervisor with children’s services at the county council and a volunteer on Norwich’s life-saving SOS Bus, and the rest of the 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.
We pray, like we have been doing so for the last 10 months that justice will be done for that lovely man, our Dad, Barry Reeve.”