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10 December 2018, 15:23
Three people have been convicted for their part in the brutal killing of a homeless man in Colchester.
Martin Dines, 56, was found by a car park worker in a stairwell at St Mary’s car park on Balkerne Hill on the morning of April 23rd.
A post-mortem examination found he died as a result of traumatic head injuries consistent with blunt force including punching, kicking and stamping, in addition to acute alcohol intoxication.
He had a total of 73 injuries, 70 of which could be attributed to the multiple blows, kicks and physical trauma he had suffered in the attack.
Mark Hartley, 32, of New Kiln Road, Colchester, Heidi Kennedy, 47, of Queen Elizabeth Way, Colchester, and Darren Miller, 46, of no fixed abode were arrested on the evening of April 23.
Miller and Kennedy were charged with murder on April 26 and Hartley was charged on April 30. They denied the charges and stood trial at Ipswich Crown Court on Monday, October 22.
On the first day of the trial, Miller submitted a guilty plea of manslaughter which was rejected and the 46-year-old stood trial for murder alongside Kennedy and Hartley.
A jury found Miller and Hartley guilty of murder on Thursday, December 6th.
Kennedy was found guilty of manslaughter today, Monday, December 10th.
Key to the case was CCTV of the group entering and leaving the car park before and after the murder.
Mr Dines was attacked on April 22 over the course of two hours and 23 minutes - the suspects having taken breaks in between assaulting him. They then left him and went to Hartley’s flat.
During the police investigation, officers discovered that it wasn’t just in the car park that Mr Dines had been harassed and assaulted by the three defendants.
They first attacked him on April 22nd outside the Royal Bank of Scotland in Head Street, and for the second time outside Fresh Look barbers in Crouch Street.
Knowing that he would likely be sleeping in the car park, they entered the building on three separate occasions looking for him.
On the third occasion they found him and carried out the fatal attack.
All three will be sentenced on January 11th.
Speaking after the verdicts were announced, senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Stephen Jennings, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “This was a savage attack on a man who was already incredibly vulnerable and the three individuals responsible for Mr Dines’ death took to the stand and blamed each other in a cowardly attempt to thwart justice.
“They spent that Saturday drinking cheap alcohol in Colchester town centre and took part in a twisted turn of events, the catalyst being Hartley’s anger against Mr Dines for calling him a ‘fake para’.
“Hartley - who had regularly and fraudulently boasted about having served in the Parachute Regiment – went with Kennedy and Miller and sought out Mr Dines with the chilling intention of using violence as retribution.
“We know that Hartley had served in the Scots Guards for a short term, but had been dismissed after he was caught taking cocaine.
“Nothing can ever justify the taking of a life and these three despicable individuals followed a sinister path that evening which led to Mr Dines’ death.
“The jury were asked to consider the harrowing details of his last hours and his father - who attended court - also had to endure hearing the brutal attack his son was subjected to.
“The jury were also shown pictures of Mr Dines’ body and the injuries inflicted on him and I would like to thank them for their resilience and commitment during the trial.”
Martin’s father, Brian Dines, said: “Martin will be sorely missed by all his family and friends.
"Now every time we would like to see him, the reality kicks in that he is no longer with us.
"Nobody deserves to have their life end in such a heart-breaking way.
"I would like to say thanks for all of the wonderful comfort and support we received from the police, court room ushers and our lovely friends and family, which made the terrible things I heard in court just a bit more bearable."