Page last updated at 16:24 GMT, Wednesday, 20 May 2009 17:24 UK

Men guilty of torture raid murder


Footage from the CCTV which captured the attack on Mr Baker

Two men have been jailed for life for torturing a 75-year-old cancer sufferer to death with his own walking stick in a burglary at his Wiltshire home.

John James, 19, and Joby Barney, 25, were found guilty of murdering Reginald Baker at Winchester Crown Court.

Mr Baker was stabbed and battered in an attack captured on CCTV at his home in Landford on 5 September 2008.

Barney, of Alderholt, must serve a minimum of 30 years in prison and James, of Salisbury, at least 28 years.

The court heard how Barney and James also used a knife to torture Mr Baker for 30 minutes to find out where his money was.

What puts this case into a different league was the fact it was so prolonged and included this grotesque element of torture
Mr Justice Royce

Two other men pleaded guilty to manslaughter for their role in the raid. A fifth man was convicted of conspiracy to burgle.

The vicious attack was captured on a hidden camera installed after Mr Baker, known as John, was targeted by some of the men on a previous occasion.

Sentencing James and Barney, Mr Justice Royce said the "prolonged, savage and callous attack almost defied belief in any civilised society" and that the pair had "not one ounce of human decency".

James, of The Brambles, and Barney, of Ringwood Road, admitted conspiracy to burgle but had denied the murder charge.

The judge said Mr Baker had been "helpless as a baby" and had made a pitiful and slow attempt to escape.

Reginald Baker was tortured to death
Mr Baker's home had been targeted by the gang before

"It's bad enough for an old man, who is vulnerable, to receive serious violence in his own home, but what puts this case into a different league was the fact it was so prolonged and included this grotesque element of torture."

Daniel Coker, 23, of The Brambles, Salisbury, Wiltshire, and 19-year-old Trevor Gray, of Blackfriars, Salisbury, both admitted manslaughter and will be sentenced at a later date.

A fifth man, John Wilkinson of Ford Lane, Ferndown, Dorset, was cleared of a burglary charge relating to the earlier raid on 30 July, although he was found guilty of conspiracy to burgle in connection with the raid in which Mr Baker died.

'Despicable actions'

He is in custody awaiting sentencing.

Jurors at Winchester Crown Court - who were shown some of the footage captured on the CCTV camera in Mr Baker's house - heard how James and Barney conspired with Coker, Gray and Wilkinson to burgle the property on 5 September 2008.

(Top L-R) John James, Joby Barney, (Bottom L-R) Trevor Gray, John Wilkinson, Daniel Coker
James and Barney (top) have been given life sentences for the murder

Mr Justice Royce said he accepted Barney and James had not intended to kill Mr Baker but added that they must have known that he might well die.

Det Supt Stephen Fulcher said Mr Baker's family had remained dignified and supportive of Wiltshire Police throughout the investigation.

"This was an extremely violent, sustained and unprovoked attack on a frail man, who was coming to terms with the news he had terminal cancer.

"Mr Baker was the victim of a distraction burglary in July 2008 and then visited by these offenders on 5 September 2008 and ultimately lost his life due to the callous and despicable actions of these men."

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