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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 May, 2005, 14:32 GMT 15:32 UK
'Savage killer' jailed for life
Barry Sewell
Homeless Barry Sewell: "A harmless man"
A man who tortured a homeless widower to death in the mistaken belief he was a paedophile, has been jailed for life.

Brian Kearney, 21, donned a hooded jacket and a belt filled with weapons before cycling to a deserted barn and attacking Barry Sewell, 49.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Kearney used "unimaginable violence" in December's attack on Mr Sewell, who was described by a police as harmless.

Kearney, from Sunderland, was told he would serve at least 21 years in jail.

The court was told Kearney, of Morgan Street in the city, repeatedly battered homeless Mr Sewell's head with hammers and used a bar to smash his kneecaps and shins.

Ferocious and savage

He then dropped 35lb breeze blocks on his head before ramming a metal pole into his body.

A post-mortem examination showed Mr Sewell's skull had been smashed by at least 25 separate blows, and had fractures to his legs and ribs.

A pole had ripped through his bowel, passed through the contents of his abdominal cavity and pierced the interior abdominal wall.

There had been at least 36 hammer blows to Mr Sewell, most of which were delivered with "severe" force.

Most of the injuries were inflicted while Mr Sewell was lying dead or dying, but injuries to his hands indicated he had put up a fight.

Judge David Hodson, the Recorder of Newcastle, told Kearney: "The attack you mounted on Mr Sewell was as about as ferocious and savage and sustained attack that I have ever heard tell.

Brian Kearney
Murderer Brian Kearney will serve at least 21 years

"You know that there is only one sentence that this court can pass and that is life imprisonment."

As Kearney left the dock, abuse was shouted at him from the public gallery.

Detective Chief Inspector Jim Napier, of Northumberland Police, who led the murder hunt, said: "Barry Sewell pursued an unconventional lifestyle and was basically a harmless man who was well known around Southwick.

"He was a totally innocent and defenceless victim who was subjected to a completely unprovoked and vicious attack of the most unimaginable violence."

The court heard how Kearney tried to cover his tracks by pretending to discover the body, but the plan back-fired.

A statement from Mr Sewell's family said: "Barry was a much loved son, father, grandfather, brother and uncle who came from a large family.

"In his later years he did have his problems and chose to live outdoors, a way of life he enjoyed.

"But it does not matter what problems he had, no one deserved to die in this terrible way."


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