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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 February 2006, 18:57 GMT
Man convicted of soldier's murder
Narel Sharpe
Narel Sharpe had served in Kosovo and Iraq
A 26-year-old man who shot dead a soldier home on leave from Germany has been jailed for at least 30 years.

Trooper Narel Sharpe returned to Smethwick in September 2004 for his 21st birthday and his mother's 40th.

Stafford Crown Court heard that Levi Walker, from Edgbaston in Birmingham, shot Mr Sharpe, who resisted when Walker tried to steal a gold chain.

Chervaun Whitehouse, 21, of Smethwick, and a youth aged 16 were convicted of perverting the course of justice.

It is a crime that almost defies belief
Mr Justice Mackay

Trooper Sharpe was a member of the Queen's Royal Hussars and had served in Kosovo and Iraq.

Stafford Crown Court was told that he was driving back to his home when he stopped to use a phone box in Oldbury Road, Smethwick, where he was shot by Walker.

The trial heard that Whitehouse who, along with the teenager, helped cover up Walker's crime, was given the gold chain which he later pawned.

The weapon used was recovered when it was used in a botched robbery at a leisure centre in Smethwick.

Sentencing Walker, who had a record dating back to when he was aged 14, Mr Justice Mackay said: "This was a callous murder for a cheap piece of jewellery. It is a crime that almost defies belief."

After the verdict Gail Sharpe said the death of her son would forever haunt her.

I feel numb, but justice has been done
Gail Sharpe, victim's mother
"I feel numb but justice has been done. I will never forgive him (Levi Walker) for what he has done but he is now off the streets of Birmingham.

"The last 15 months has been a nightmare. It is like daggers piercing into my stomach.

"The fact that I will never get to see my son again will always hurt me," she said.

Major Will Strickland, from the Queen's Royal Hussars, said Mr Sharpe was a committed and capable soldier who would have done well.

"It is a tragedy that he had been in Kosovo and Iraq on dangerous operations and been killed in his home town," he said.

'Despicable crime'

Detective Sergeant Stuart Kidd said Mr Sharpe had a completely different life to Walker despite them growing up just a few miles apart.

"He had a dream of becoming the first black colonel and was doing well in the Army," he said.

"Levi Walker has been found guilty of a despicable crime.

"This sends out a clear message: people who carry guns will be sentenced to a long time in prison."

The teenager convicted along with Chervaun Whitehouse was also found guilty of possession of a firearm.

Sentencing of the two was adjourned to Birmingham Crown Court at the end of April and they were granted bail.

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