Pair held over death nine years after attack

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The Independent Online

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of murdering a 28-year-old who died last month after being attacked with a screwdriver nearly nine years ago.

Jonathan Barton suffered serious head injuries when he was assaulted in September 2000 and was left unable to walk or speak.

He died in hospital on 11 July and his funeral took place yesterday.

Thames Valley Police said today that a 29-year-old man from Bletchley, Buckinghamshire, and a 27-year-old from Oakhill, Milton Keynes, had been arrested on suspicion of murder.

They were released on police bail until September. The results of a post-mortem examination on Mr Barton are not expected for several months.

Police would not reveal the names of the arrested men.

Leigh Clift, 29, was convicted of grievous bodily harm with intent following the attack on Mr Barton and was given a 10-year sentence, five-and-a-half years of which he spent in custody.

Speaking ahead of the arrests, Mr Barton's mother Kim , from Milton Keynes, said the attack on her son, shortly after he finished a shift at Tesco, tore her family apart.

She said he was attacked outside a pub by Clift after an argument broke out over a girl, a screwdriver being thrust into his skull and leaving him unconscious.

Ms Barton was told her son was not likely to survive, but he woke from his coma three weeks later and continued to fight for his life for nine years.

She told the newspaper: "Whatver happens, our family had the pleasure of knowing a lovely boy who didn't have a bad bone in his body.

"He lived and died with dignity, and we'll always be grateful for the nine wonderful years we had to say goodbye."

Clift, who is about to become a father for the first time, told the newspaper he had reformed since being released from prison.

He said: "I was young, I was silly and I was influenced. There's been a lot of water under the bridge since then."