Thetford: Man Given Life Sentence For Murder

A 57-year-old man is today starting a life sentence after being convicted of the murder of Ronald Beacham in Thetford last December.

The 65-year-old died after being assaulted by Michael O'Leary, on Sunday 4th December 2011.

Mr Beacham had been at the Ex-Serviceman's Club in Bridges Walk with a friend on the evening of Saturday 3rd December. O'Leary, who was lodging with the friend, was also at the club.

Early on Sunday 4th December, the trio returned to the friend's home on Fir Road in Thetford. O'Leary began to act aggressively and threatened Mr Beacham, before assaulting him. The friend sought help and flagged down a passing motorist, but when they returned to the house Mr Beacham was found to be seriously injured and unconscious. He had suffered serious head injuries and was transferred to Addenbrooke's Hospital in a critical condition.

O'Leary had left the house, but was located a short time later nearby and arrested. On Monday 5 December, O'Leary, of no fixed address, was charged with GBH with intent and appeared before Bury Magistrates Court on Tuesday 6th December, where he was remanded in custody.

On Thursday 8th December, Mr Beacham died. O'Leary was produced from prison and on 15th December was charged with murder. He denied the charge and stood trial at Norwich Crown Court on Wednesday 6th June 2012. Following two weeks of evidence, O'Leary was convicted by the jury.  He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 13 and a half years.

Detective Inspector Stuart Chapman said, "This was an unprovoked assault which tragically led to the death of Ronald Beacham, and I would like to offer my condolences to his family and friends.

O'Leary appears to have become increasingly aggressive during the evening before setting upon Mr Beacham for no reason. There is no excuse for the level of violence used; within a matter of minutes O'Leary had kicked and beaten him so badly that he would not recover.
His actions have robbed children of a grandfather and great grandfather, and an innocent man of his retirement years."

Family statement:

We the family of Ron Beacham would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Norfolk Police for their professionalism in preparing, delivering and concluding the evidence needed to charge and convict the murderer responsible for taking the life of our beloved family member. He is still greatly missed by us all and the very many friends he had.

We would like to also thank the witnesses that were called and everyone who made statements and for their help in putting him where he so obviously belongs for the term of the sentence.

A void has been left in the hearts and lives of so many family and friends of Ron by the savage, evil and callous actions of a coward on such a gentle loving family man.

We are pleased that justice has been served and that he will not be able to inflict the ongoing pain and suffering felt by our family on any other family.

Ronald Beacham