Man Jailed For Bin Man Murder

26 October 2010, 13:38 | Updated: 26 October 2010, 14:25

A bin man who battered to death a popular work colleague has been jailed for a minimum of 22 years for murder.

Julian Felisi, 38, lured gentle giant Gary Bennett to a country park early in the morning where he hit him on the back of the head as many as 13 times. A gold chain, worth over a £1,000,  that 46-year-old Gary wore was also used as a ligature to cause a strangulation mark around his neck and break a bone in his larynx, St Albans crown court heard.

During a three week trial the jury of eight women and four men were shown a photograph of the victim's high-visibility work jacket which was covered in his blood following the attack. Prosecutor Michael Speak said Mr Bennett of Little Oxhey Lane, South Oxhey, near Watford, had been "robbed as well as murdered." His gold chain, phone and wallet were missing. His body was found by a disused kiosk in Aldenham Country Park in Herts by pupils on their way to Haberdeshers' Askes private school on Wednesday February 24 this year.

Work colleagues described Mr Bennett as a "big bloke", "a gentle giant" , a "friendly man" and someone who was a "little slow." He would routinely ride his pedal-bike to work after being woken by his mother at about 4.30am. But on the day he died he left his bike at home, along with his rucksack, which he always took to work.

Felisi, now 38, of Whippendell Road, Watford pleaded not guilty to murder but was convicted by the jury after 14 hours' deliberations. The jury was told the motive for the killing was not clear, but Gary Bennett would buy tobacco from Felisi who had recently returned from Belgium or France with supplies. When questioned soon after his body was found Felisi initially told police he had no idea how Gary was killed and said he had never given him a lift in his car. But the jury was told that after his arrest, and CCTV evidence had been produced, his solicitors filed a defence case statement with the court.

In it Mr Felisi said he had picked Gary up from his home in the morning, but two Irishmen got into the car and told him to go to Aldenham Country Park. He said he was not present when a tobacco deal took place and all he heard was shouting in the early morning darkness. Mr Speak said: "He said these Irishmen had murdered Mr Bennett. He was forced to take them away from the murder scene and then drop them off to catch a bus to London. Are these the first murderers who flee the scene by standing at a bus stop and waiting for a bus?"

Sentencing him to life with a minimum term of 22 years Judge Stephen Gullick told Felisi: "You delivered ferocious blows to his head. The weapon used has never been found."

The judge said the aggravating features of the murder were Gary Bennett was vulnerable because of intellectual difficulties, the crime was pre-meditated and because of the "sheer brutality, ferociousness and viciousness of the attack."

Detective Inspector Tim Redfearn of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit said: “For reasons known only to himself, Julian Felisi enticed Gary to an isolated park on that morning in February and brutally murdered him. During our investigation into Gary’s murder, so many people have spoken of him as being a gentle, well regarded and unassuming person who would never dream of hurting anyone. These testimonies of Gary’s character make this terrible crime even more difficult to comprehend. Our hearts and sympathies go out to Gary’s family today; they have been tremendously brave throughout the investigation and the trial. I hope that today’s outcome will allow Gary’s family some comfort, knowing that the man who killed their son, brother, uncle and friend will face a significant amount of time behind bars.”
Gary’s mum, Alice Bennett said: “I miss Gary so much; he was such a good son to me and was well liked by everyone who knew him. I will never understand how this man took Gary away from us so cruelly. He did not deserve to die in the way he did and we are relieved that this man has been found guilty of Gary’s murder.”
Tim added: “I would like to express our thanks to Watford Borough Council and all of the staff at Wiggenhall Road Depot who allowed our team of investigating officers to undertake our extensive enquiries at the premises unhindered.”