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Last Updated: Friday, 16 February 2007, 13:10 GMT
Man jailed for killing preacher
Convicted murderer Danny Wilde
Wilde had been drinking heavily before the murder
A career criminal has been jailed for 31 years for murdering an elderly lay preacher in her own home in a "prolonged and brutal beating".

Homeless Danny Wilde, 43, killed Pamela Vardey, 75, after she gave him shelter. He "repaid her Christian charity with ruthless brutality", a judge said.

Wilde then set light to his victim's body at her home in Rotherham last September, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

Just days before he had been freed from a four-year jail term for burglary.

The jury heard that was the latest in a string of 20 prison terms Wilde had served during his life.

There is no-one he could have found who was as good a person as she was
Melody Beeley, victim's cousin

Jeremy Baker QC, prosecuting, told the jury Mrs Vardey suffered multiple injuries during a series of beatings.

Sentencing Wilde, the judge, Mr Justice Wilkie, said: "One can only imagine her agonies as you beat and stamped her to death, following her relentlessly from room to room."

He said Wilde then "desecrated" Ms Vardey's body by setting it alight in an attempt to cover his tracks.

Wilde's DNA was found in the house, on Herringthorpe Valley Road, the court was told.

Pamela Vardey
Pamela Vardey's body was found by firefighters

Mr Baker said Wilde had gone to his sister's house in Rotherham and consumed a large amount of alcohol.

Wilde told his sister he had later woken up next to a lady's body and could not remember what happened so he decided to set light to it, Mr Baker said.

The killer told police he took 50 from the house on his way out.

Speaking after the case Ms Vardey's cousin , Melody Beeley, said: "She would have forgiven him but today is a relief for her family and all her friends and the church.

"She was a devout Christian and I expect she would have tried to ask him to pray with her.

"There is no-one he could have found who was as good a person as she was."

Det Sgt Simon Taylor of South Yorkshire Police said: "You can't underestimate how viciously she was attacked and brutalised in her own house."




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The family's reaction to the verdict



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