Great Yarmouth killer will serve at least 17 years

The family of a Great Yarmouth man beaten to death on his own doorstep last night said 'nobody deserves to die like this' after seeing his killer jailed for life.

Archibald Kerr, 52, was found with injuries comparable to those a person would suffer in a 'bad traffic accident' in the hallway of his flat in Deneside, Yarmouth, in the early hours of January 31, Norwich Crown Court heard.

After the attack killer William Rowley made a number of 'callous' phone calls to Mr Kerr's son, James Flynn, boasting about the violence.

Mr Kerr died two months later at the James Paget University Hospital at Gorleston from pneumonia linked to his injuries.

During the trial jurors heard he was a frail man who suffered from emphysema and weighed little more than seven stone.

Yesterday, after almost two days of deliberation, the jury found Rowley, 37, of Ordnance Road, Yarmouth, guilty of murder. He was sentenced to life in prison and will serve a minimum of 17 years before being considered for parole.

Co-defendant Darren Peake, 37, of Gloucester Avenue, Gorleston was acquitted.

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Mr Kerr had a long criminal record but, speaking outside court, Mr Flynn said he had also been a loving and devoted father.

Mr Flynn said: 'We are glad justice has been done. Nobody deserves to be killed in such a brutal way and we will never forgive Rowley for what he has done.

'He had three sons and he was a great dad. We all miss him so much and we have a lot of happy memories.'

Peake looked relieved as the verdict was returned while Rowley, dressed in a dark suit, shook his head repeatedly and told jurors 'you've got this well wrong' as he was led from the dock.

Prosecutor Martyn Levett told the jury that Mr Kerr, known as Archie, had suffered multiple injuries in the 'killing zone', the vulnerable area around his head and neck.

Although there was not sufficient evidence to prove it, the court heard that it was most likely that he had been attacked using a heavy fire extinguisher.

After the verdict, the court heard that Rowley had a 'dreadful record of violence' including one offence in Scotland which is the equivalent to the charge of wounding with intent.

Mr Levett said the attack had followed a 'prelude of drinking and violence'.

On the night of the killing Mr Flynn had been drinking with the two defendants. There was a fight between Mr Flynn and Rowley which led to bouncers throwing Rowley out of the Yarmouth nightclub they were in.

Within 10 minutes Rowley and Peake were recorded on CCTV outside Mr Kerr's home. The prosecution said Rowley launched a vicious as he sought revenge on Mr Flynn.

Mobile phone records show that after the attack Rowley made 78 phone calls to Mr Flynn between 1.30am and 5am – the equivalent of one call every two and a half minutes. These included a threat to go to the hospital and 'finish off' Mr Kerr.

Sentencing Rowley, Judge Peter Jacobs said: 'Archie Kerr was a more elderly man than you, he had various health problems and was lightly built - there is no doubt that he was no match for you.

'It never fails to depress me to see convictions which seem to show a person who uses violence as a first resort.'

Det Insp Andy Guy, who lead the investigation, welcomed the verdict. He added: 'The court heard that Rowley had a long history of serious violence.

'The attack on Archie Kerr was totally unprovoked and appears to have been revenge for an earlier altercation involving Archie's son. The level of violence used was extreme and totally unnecessary.'

ben.kendall@archant.co.uk