'Evil pair' guilty of beating father of five to death

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The Independent Online

A boy of 16 and a man with an artificial leg were found guilty yesterday of beating to death a father of five who had popped to the corner shop for some groceries.

Carl Keatley, 20, and Jordan Carrol, 16, launched a brutal attack on Michael Eccles just yards from his home. He died a day later.

The pair, from Lichfield, Staffordshire, were convicted of murder by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court. They had denied the charge, Keatley claiming that his prosthetic leg meant that he could not kick or stamp, nor run away. Carroll said he was too drunk to remember, although he did admit hitting Mr Eccles.

Carrol's father, 55-year-old Edward Carroll, was found guilty of perverting the course of justice. He tried to help his son cover up the crime by putting his blood-stained clothes in the washing machine and cleaning blood from his head.

During the two-week trial, jurors heard that Mr Eccles, 43, was walking home from a local Costcutter store in Lichfield in January having purchased a bottle of wine and some milk, when he was set upon by Keatley and Carroll, who was 15 at the time.

It was a Sunday evening and the pair had spent the day drinking vodka in a local park. Both were drunk when they chased their victim and knocked him to the ground. The assault followed a "verbal exchange" when Mr Eccles left the store with his purchases and asked them to move on.

Gareth Evans QC, prosecuting, told the court that Mr Eccles, a factory worker, was "punched and kicked and stamped upon" by the drunken pair.

He was left lying in the street with a burst eye socket, 10 broken ribs, a number of broken bones in his neck and massive facial injuries. The court heard that forensic experts found imprints on Mr Eccles's chin and chest matched the soles of the teenager's trainers.

Judge Robert Juckes said the case had been "difficult and troubling". He adjourned sentencing until 11 September. All three were remanded in custody.

Speaking after the verdicts, Chief Superintendent Mick Harrison, of Staffordshire Police, said: "Mr Eccles suffered sickening injuries in a pointless, savage attack."

In a statement following the verdicts, John Bayliss, Mr Eccles' brother-in-law, said: "The sentence must be a deterrent to the feral youths who terrorise our society. We will never forgive this evil pair. They showed no mercy to a defenceless man as he lay dying on the floor."