Published: 14:28, 19 October 2006
A 22-year-old thug is today starting a life sentence after being convicted of the brutal murders of a popular elderly couple he knew.
Brett Clifton showed no emotion as a judge told him: "You are callous, spineless and wicked."
The jury of 10 men and two women took just over an hour to return guilty verdicts on the two murder charges. Clifton could serve 30 years behind bars.
Maidstone Crown Court heard how the burglar broke into the couple's home in Abbey Street, Faversham, on January 21 through a skylight window.
When he found Terry Martin, 72, sitting in the dark he attacked him. Mr Martin's wife Vera, 78, came down the stairs and she too was attacked.
Simon Russell Flint, QC, prosecuting, told how the couple were "ferociously beaten", adding: "They were kicked, they were stamped on, they were punched. Each was repeatedly stabbed with a knife.
"It was on any view a merciless, sadistic and brutal attack. He left them unconscious, bleeding and dying on the floor of their front room."
Clifton stole the couple’s car and left it burnt out about a mile away.
The "horrific" murders were discovered three days later by Mr Martin’s sister Marina Finnis after friends and neighbours had become concerned about the couple.
Clifton, of Becket Street, Faversham, denied two murder charges, but was convicted on unanimous verdicts.
The prosecution pointed out that Mr Martin could have survived for up to 24 hours after the attack.
Jailing Clifton for life, Mrs Justice Rafferty told Clifton on Thursday: "You murdered two people whose lives were blameless and who trusted you.
"The evidence against you was overwhelming and you lacked the guts to acknowledge that."
Det Chief Insp Martin Harris, who led the major crime inquiry team, said after the verdict: "This was an horrific double murder of a defenceless elderly couple by a young man who it appears broke into the house and for reasons only known to himself carried out this dreadful crime.
"Clifton was known to the Martins and had carried out building repair work at their house in the recent past.
"The Martins’ deaths were totally unnecessary. It was a despicable crime which prompted an excellent response to police from the people of the town, from all sections of the community, who quite rightly wanted the couple’s killer caught quickly.
"I would like to thank all those people who helped Kent Police with our enquiries, including family and friends of Terry and Vera. I’d also like to praise all the police officers and staff who worked tirelessly on this case and I’d like to thank the media for publicising our appeals.
"This was an excellent example of the community, the media and the police working together to catch the murderer."