Published: 16:20, 07 November 2017
A pensioner has been found guilty of murder after bludgeoning a friend to death.
Tony Goodwin killed his elderly friend and neighbour in his bungalow with repeated hammer blows after they fell out over "something silly".
He inflicted at least 18 wounds to Harry Messenger’s head, face and neck and about 13 puncture wounds to his chest with the claw of the hammer.
Shortly afterwards, Goodwin, 63, sent a text, admitting: “No, I just murdered someone true get me to talk to my brother urgent.”
It was not until more than 12 hours later that he phoned the emergency services saying he had “a bit of a dispute” with his neighbour in Crispin Close in Faversham.
He added: “I think I may have hurt him, because we had a fight. He’s not responding, so I could have hurt him.”
Asked how his friend, who was 75, seemed after he left, he replied: “Erm bad.”
He claimed that Mr Messenger had attacked him first with a hammer and he retaliated in self-defence.
Maidstone Crown Court was told the two men were good friends and visited each other regularly in the cul-de-sac where they lived.
Prosecutor Philip Bennetts QC said at about 1.45pm on May 18 this year another neighbour saw Goodwin knock on Mr Messenger’s door and was “effing and blinding”.
He heard him shout: “I know you are in there you ------- ----.” There was more banging on the door before he walked off after about 10 minutes.
At 12.38am the next day, neighbour Danita Godden heard raised voices outside Mr Messenger’s bungalow. She saw Harry and identified Goodwin from his voice.
She heard Mr Messenger’s door close about 40 minutes later.
At 3.32am another neighbour, Derek Brown heard two bangs that sounded as though they were coming from Mr Messenger’s bungalow. He heard a further bang.
It was at 4.11am that Goodwin sent a text attempting to get in touch with his brother.
In his 999 call at about 4.50pm that day, he said: “Well, he attacked me with a hammer, started punching with his fist, then got a hammer and started using that, and then apparently I used it back, and then I left after that.
“Yes, he hit me with a hammer first, but obviously he came into possession of the hammer out of the blue. I took it off him and hit him back, not with the intention of hitting him hard, but I hit him.
“I checked to see if he was breathing but I couldn’t get no pulse, so I just left. I was scared.”
The fight, he said, was over “something silly about an aeroplane”.
Police went to Mr Messenger’s home soon afterwards. Officers looked through the letterbox and saw his legs. On entering they found his lifeless body.
He had a “significant” head injury. A hammer was to the left of his head.
Mr Bennetts said there was an indication Mr Messenger had been lying on the lounge floor for long enough for a large stain of blood to form.
“There is evidence that while in this position his blood wet head was struck at least once, and maybe more,” said Mr Bennetts.
“Mr Messenger’s head was then moved to a position on the carpet near a coffee table where he was eventually found dead.
“There is evidence that while in that position his blood wet head was struck further times with at least one blow being into congealed blood.”
It suggested that the assault on the floor took place over a period of time. A conservative estimate was at least five minutes.
There were at least 18 impact sites about the head, face and neck, resulting in complex fracturing of the central facial bones and skull.
Tests revealed he was almost three times the legal drink-drive limit. He had also taken prescribed medication tramadol and gabapentin.
When arrested, Goodwin said the clothes he wore the previous day were in the kitchen and that he had washed them.
He asked: “How is he?” He had an injury to his face, which was bruised and red.
When interviewed, he claimed: “It was self-defence by the way. I was the one who was bruised and beaten.”
He added he thought he hit Mr Messenger to the head two or three times.
Goodwin denied murder and an alternative charge of manslaughter, but was found guilty following the trial.
He showed no reaction to the as the jury of six men and six women returned a unanimous verdict after deliberating for more than six-and-a-half hours.
Judge Jeremy Carey told jurors: "I am sure it has been something of an ordeal for you - a week and two days of a very heavy trial, which has been onerous.
"What you have done should not be underestimated."
Goodwin is due to be sentenced tomorrow.
Speaking after the verdict, investigating officer Detective Inspector Ivan Beasley, said: "This was a sustained and brutal attack.
"The multiple wounds found on the victim including the fatal wound to his head, inflicted by such a weapon as a hammer, proved Goodwin intended to kill Harry Messenger.
"The severity of this attack, the text message he sent from his phone soon after and then the time he took to report this matter to the police voided any claim he was acting in self-defence.
"I hope this verdict is of some comfort to the victim’s family and friends."
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