Two guilty of murdering terminally-ill cancer victim

A 23-YEAR-OLD man and a 17-year-old youth have today been found guilty of murdering a terminally ill man.

A TEENAGER and a 23-year-old man have been found guilty of the “callous” murder of a terminally ill Suffolk man who was killed just before he was due to spend his last Christmas with his family.

Father-of-three John Vry, 55, who was suffering from cancer, was “literally kicked to death” in an alleyway in Lowestoft after going out to buy some fish and chips at a local shop, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Before the court were James Killingback, 23, of Denmark Road, Lowestoft, and Aaron Breffitt, 17, of no fixed address, who denied murdering Mr Vry on December 4 last year.

A jury took eight hours to convict them of murder and following the guilty verdicts trial judge John Devaux agreed to lift a court order banning the publication of Breffitt's name which had been imposed earlier in the proceedings because of his age.

The case was adjourned until next month for the preparation of up-to-date reports on Breffitt but as the killers were returned to prison to await sentence the motive for the attack on Mr Vry remained unanswered

Following the convictions, senior investigating officer for the case, Det Ch Insp Neil Luckett described the attack on Mr Vry as “callous and sustained”.

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He said that Mr Vry, who had undergone surgery and chemotherapy after being diagnosed with cancer , had significant health problems and the fact that he didn't have long to live at the time of the attack had made him more vulnerable.

He said Mr Vry had suffered significant head injuries which had resulted in his death in hospital the following day. “We don't know why they did it,” he said.

He read out a statement from members of Mr Vry's family in which they described him as a “great man” and a “true rough diamond” who was well thought of by family, friends and everyone who knew him.

“The justice system and the verdict will never replace the months of John's life that were stolen with this crime,” they said.

During the trial the court heard that last summer doctors had given Mr Vry, of London Road South, Lowestoft, a life expectancy of between three and six months and by the time of the attack in December he had been in no condition to defend himself.

On the evening of December 3, Mr Vry, who had formerly worked as an electrician and a shopkeeper, left his home in London Road South to buy some chips and after calling in at the shop to check the closing time he had gone to a nearby shop to buy tobacco.

After leaving the shop he was confronted by Killingback and Breffitt and witnesses described seeing Mr Vry holding on to a lamppost as he desperately tried to resist the pair as they dragged him into an alleyway.

There he was “felled” to the ground and held down while his head was repeatedly punched and kicked.

A number of witnesses called the police after seeing Mr Vry being dragged into the alleyway and one of the first people to arrive on the scene after the attack was Mr Vry's son John Junior who had gone out looking for his father when he didn't return from the chip shop.

Mr Vry was still alive at that stage but died from his injuries in hospital the following day.

A post-mortem examination found that he had suffered a severe head injury which had caused brain damage and bleeding around the brain.

The pathologist who carried out the post mortem said Mr Vry's injuries were caused by multiple blunt force impact such as kicking or stamping or both.

Prosecuting counsel Karim Khalil QC told the jury that Killingback and Breffitt, who had only been 16 at the time of the attack, had chosen a “defenceless victim” and had “literally kicked him to death” for a reason only they knew or perhaps for no reason at all.

He said that a witness who saw them leaving the alleyway described them as having a “swaggering Lowestoft walk” about them.

During the trial Killingback denied being involved in the attack and claimed he had been smoking heroin at a friend's house at the time.

Breffitt chose not to give evidence.

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