Published: 00:00, 18 December 2014
| Updated: 12:13, 18 December 2014
One of the men accused of causing the death of a chef by wrapping him in clingfilm has been jailed for five years after being found guilty today.
Cerebral palsy sufferer Richard Bowler, 35, was convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence of his gay lover Alun Williams.
His co-defendant and carer David Connor, who was charged with the same offence, has been found not guilty.
Judge Adele Williams handed down the sentence at Canterbury Crown Court this afternoon.
The verdict comes after a two and a half week trial, in which the jury was told Mr Williams was "mummified" with clingfilm in a kinky bondage session gone wrong.
The victim suffered a fatal heart attack when he was left covered in the plastic wrap, PVC and a leather hood at a flat above a hairdressers in Dover last August.
Bowler, who lives in Sturry Road, Canterbury, told the court he had wrapped Mr Williams in clingfilm 10 times before and there had been no problems.
He said Mr Williams - who he met on a gay website called Gaydar - had introduced him to “extreme S&M and bondage”.
“He also introduced me to clingfilm,” he continued. “He was not into normal sex but was into more extreme bondage, handcuffs and whips.”
The court heard Bowler and his carer, David Connor, 23, - who also denied manslaughter by gross negligence – wrapped Mr Williams in clingfilm and PVC and a placed a hood around his head after the chef took the drug ketamine.
Bowler claimed the chef enjoyed being left to sleep while being mummified in a sort of "sleep sack”.
Bowler added: “I thought it was perfectly safe, this thing, the mummification, although it was the first time he had been wrapped in PVC.
"Bowler had a responsibility to look after the welfare of Mr Williams. Due to the nature in which he was restrained he should never have left him alone..." - DI Richard Vickery
"I knew that maybe there was a risk to him about breathing, that’s why I made holes for him to breathe through.”
Connor and Bowler then went downstairs leaving Mr Williams alone and when Bowler returned he found him dead.
After today's sentencing, Detective Inspector Richard Vickery said: "This is a tragic death of a man well-liked by his colleagues and friends.
"Bowler had a responsibility to look after the welfare of Mr Williams when he entered their home and spent the evening with him.
"Due to the nature in which he was restrained he should never have left him alone for extended periods of time – but he did.
"I’m pleased the courts have recognised this responsibility and found him guilty of manslaughter.
"I hope this verdict and sentence goes some way to providing those who were close to Mr Williams some closure after what has been a very difficult time."
Judge Adele Williams said Mr Williams’ death was a tragedy and Bowler’s conduct after he discovered he had died was reprehensible.
She added that Mr Williams and Bowler had been sexual partners for some time and took part in bondage and sadomasochism sessions.
She told Bowler: "You suggested taking this further and not only wrapped Mr Williams in clingfilm but a PVC sheet as well.
"Sexual activity took place and you knew he had taken ketamine which you knew could kill a human being.
"After the sex you left Mr Williams for a period of time. It was way too long.
"The Crown says it was like being in a giant plastic bag and I agree with that description. I have no doubt that your life to date has been difficult but leaving Mr Williams in the way you did was an act of gross negligence.
“You failed to monitor him and that led to his death. Your conduct after you discovered there was a problem was reprehensible.
"Many hours later you sought help. In my judgement you lost sight of the fact that Mr Williams was a human being and not a sex buddy as you put it."
John O’Higgins, for Bowler, said Mr Williams’ death was a tragedy and nothing could bring him back.
“This was consensual sexual activity and everything that Bowler did was encouraged by Mr Williams," Mr O’Higgins said.
"Although Bowler has to be sentenced on the basis that he failed in his duty of care there is no evidence that Mr Williams, the dominant person in this, asked him or wanted him to watch over him."
Mr O’Higgins said Bowler suffered from a complex personality disorder and his life from birth had been a series of hard knocks, yet he had managed to retain a good character.
"There is no one more distressed by Mr Williams' death than Bowler who wishes the clock could be turned back," Mr O’Higgins said.
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