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Pair found guilty of murdering Piotr Lacheta in Cowgate Cemetery in Dover

A man and a woman have been found guilty of murdering a man in a graveyard.

Homeless Piotr Lacheta was beaten and stamped on at the Cowgate Cemetery in Dover.

Piotr Lacheta. Picture: GoFundMe
Piotr Lacheta. Picture: GoFundMe

Mr Lacheta’s girlfriend Claire Lunn, 48, and Justin Burnett, 38, have today been found guilty by 11 members of the jury after the judge allowed a majority verdict.

Mr Lacheta’s ear was bitten off and his body dragged along the graveyard where he and Lunn had been living in separate tents.

Both Lunn and Burnett denied murdering the Polish national. Lunn did not give evidence.

The trial heard extensively how Burnett blames the killing on his alter ego, “Jason” - a voice he had heard in his head since he was six-years-old.

He said Jason was his friend who lives in the left side of his head who first appeared when he was a boy not long after his step father tried to drown him in the bath.

He told a health worker that occasionally Jason takes over his body and he does not know what he has done.

Justin Burnett and Claire Lunn have been convicted of murder. Picture: Kent Police
Justin Burnett and Claire Lunn have been convicted of murder. Picture: Kent Police

Burnett said he had no memory and denied drinking adding “That was Jason...not me.”

The trial heard earlier that Lunn had told Burnett’s girlfriend Lisa Taylor how she wanted to kill Mr Lacheta.

The pair were said to have a violent relationship and Lunn had been seen previously with a black eye which she blamed on her partner. At the time of the murder, she was facing a charge of assault against Mr Lacheta.

On the day he was killed all four had been drinking. Lunn and Taylor were sharing a bottle of vodka and Lunn allegedly asked Taylor to help her buy a pen knife so she could vandalise Lacheta’s tent.

Burnett then spent part of the day in Deal with Ms Taylor at her mum’s home.

Police remained at the scene several days after Mr Lacheta's death
Police remained at the scene several days after Mr Lacheta's death

They were invited to stay that night but Burnett returned to the graveyard where he stayed with Lunn in her tent. The next day dog walker Corinne McKay discovered a body in Cowgate Cemetery and was approached by Lunn, who was holding a bottle of cider and asked “What’s happened?” before repeating: “That’s my partner.”

The two attacked the victim during a drunken row on September 30, 2019.

When questioned Burnett claimed he and Lunn had been in the tent together all night and did not hear any arguments. But neighbours living nearby on Cowgate Hill said they heard men’s voices shouting.

Today, a jury rejected Burnett's split personality defence and convicted him after retiring for four and a half hours.

Both remained impassive as the verdicts were returned.

Lunn was also convicted of murder - and both are now facing life sentences.

Detective Chief Inspector Gavin Moss, senior investigating officer for the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: "These two defendants carried out the brutal murder of a vulnerable man who they both knew well.

"Their actions have shown them to be unpredictable, violent offenders and I am pleased this verdict will see them removed from the streets of Dover and unable to harm others.

"Mr Lacheta's death was a tragedy for everyone who knew him. While nothing can undo the harm these offenders caused, I hope the thorough investigation we have carried out and the resulting verdicts will give his family and friends a sense that justice has been done."

Burnett and Lunn are due to be sentenced on Thursday, February 25.

To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates' courts across the county, click here.

For information on how we can report on court proceedings, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Dover

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