Story by: ROB SETCHELL, Reporter
Friday, March 1, 2013
TWO men from Wisbech, who killed a 70-year-old grandfather by pouring boiling water over him, have today been jailed for life.
Rocky Curtis, 25, of Newbridge Lane, will serve a minimum of 28 years, while Robert Michael Holmes, 24, of Redmoor Lane, will serve a minimum of 26 years for the murder of Sonny Grey.
The pair were convicted at Nottingham Crown Court yesterday after a two-week trial.
They attacked Mr Grey in his semi-detchaed Lincoln council house, at about 6.40pm on October 29, 2011, pouring boiling water over him and causing horrific scalding injuries.
The pair put a ligature around Mr Grey’s neck to throttle him, before ransacking the property, stealing jewellery and leaving in a VW Touareg.
After extensive analysis of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology, along with a painstaking year-long CCTV analysis project, of Local Authority and privately owned CCTV systems, the VW Touareg was identified as the one involved in the offence.
On November 6, 2011, the Touareg was spotted and stopped in the West Midlands area. Thomas Curtis was driving the vehicle without insurance and it was seized under the Serious Organised Crime and Public Order Act (SOCAP).
Eventually officers pieced together the movements of the vehicle on the day of Mr Gray’s death. The ANPR and CCTV data proved it travelled from Wisbech to Lincoln via the A17 and A15 in the early afternoon that day.
It then travelled to the Westwick Gardens area where it stayed for a matter of minutes. The prosecution successfully argued this was a reconnaissance visit.
From there the vehicle drove to Newark. The offenders visited an off–licence and went to Tolney Lane – a traveller site on the edge of town.
It returned to Westwick Drive, round the corner form Westwick Gardens at around 6.40pm that night and stayed there for about 35 minutes – the offence was committed during this time period.
Also during this period, a private CCTV system captured three men going towards the scene around 6.40pm and leaving the area at around 7.13pm.
The Touareg then travelled to Winthorpe Service Station, on the A46 near Newark. On leaving the service station it headed South on the A1. It is believed it was travelling back to Wisbech.
At the service station vital CCTV evidence shows Rocky Curtis, Robert Holmes and a man believed to be Thomas Curtis getting out of the car and going into the shop. This piece of evidence proved to be vital to the case.
Mr Grey crawled out of his house in agony, to be found by family members a short time later.
He was treated at Lincoln County Hospital and the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, but he died of his injuries on October 31, 2011.
A post mortem showed Mr Grey had 46 separate or groups of injuries to his body. The court heard that one of the victim’s fingers was held in boiling water to make him reveal where he had hidden his savings.
A third man, Thomas Andrew Curtis, 30, of Newbridge Lane, Wisbech, was arrested in connection with the murder on December 19, 2011. He was recalled to prison in relation to other matters and subsequently died. The circumstances of his death are subject to an inquest.
Sentencing the pair, Mr Justice Saunders said that, although he made no finding against him, Thomas Curtis was the likely “ring leader” in the attack. He treated the defendants as “willing helpers”.
Det Supt Stuart Morrison, of Lincolnshire Police, said: “This is an extremely significant sentence and it will send a very clear message to anyone committing violent crime in Lincolnshire and the rest of the East Midlands.
“This kind of mindless brutality will not be tolerated and we will use the staff and resources of the combined five forces in the East Midlands to bring to justice anyone committing such crimes.
“This was a horrendous attack on a 72-year-old man carried out by vicious thugs who used a horrific level of violence.
“Mr Grey died in a considerable amount of pain and this has caused his family an enormous amount of distress over that the last year or so.
“We hope this sentence offers them some small consolation that justice has been done and that they may now be able to start moving forward with their lives.”