Man who killed widower he believed was a paedophile is jailed for life

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The Independent Online

A man who battered a widower to death in the mistaken belief that he was a paedophile has been jailed for life.

A man who battered a widower to death in the mistaken belief that he was a paedophile has been jailed for life.

Brian Kearney, 21, donned a hooded jacket and a joiner's belt filled with weapons before cycling to a deserted barn where he launched the deadly attack on Barry Sewell, 49, who was living rough after the death of his wife.

Kearney had been drinking at a social club in Sunderland before he was told his victim was a paedophile. The source of the unfounded rumour is a mystery.

Newcastle Crown Court was told that Kearney repeatedly battered Mr Sewell's head with hammers, used a bar to smash his kneecaps and shins and dropped 15kg breeze blocks on his head, in an attack that Judge David Hodson said was "as ferocious and as savage and as sustained an attack I think I have ever heard". Judge Hodson said he was satisfied that the killer's belief that his victim was a paedophile had "absolutely no substance whatsoever".

The court heard that, after the killing, Kearney tried to cover his tracks by contacting police and telling them: "You had better get down here, I've just found a body with its head stoved in." When officers arrived at the barn, near the river Wear in Low Southwick, Sunderland, they found Mr Sewell's body lying face-down with no trousers on.

Kearney denied having anything to do with the death but the hooded top and tool-belt were found in his mother's shed and he confessed.

Kearney told officers he went home and changed after the killing but then decided to go back to the scene in the hope he could "get out of it".