A young father who killed his cousin by throttling him and dumping his body in a bath of water has today been jailed for life.
Travis Smith, 24, was unanimously convicted by a jury at Canterbury Crown Court of murdering Danny Wallis, 29, at his home in Gravesham Court, Gravesend in May last year.
Today Judge Adele Williams told Smith, of no fixed address, that Mr Wallis was a particularly vulnerable young man, being left with a mental age of 15 after accidentally taking a drugs overdose in 2008.
He was supported by his father and the wider family.
“I am sure you took advantage of him and bullied him in the months leading up to his death,” Judge Williams said.
“You used his flat as your own and in the weeks leading to the killing you urinated in a glass of wine which Mr Wallis was drinking, taunted him to kill himself and verbally abused him. He was 29 and his life has been cut short.”
Judge Williams said Smith, who has an IQ of 67, struck his cousin repeatedly around the head and put him in a choke hold.
“Instead of calling for help you put his body in the bath and filled it with water and submerged his head under the water to make it look like he had drowned,” Judge Williams said.
“You did not report his death until the next day.”
Judge Williams told Smith he had shown no remorse and had thought only of himself. “Despite your low IQ you are, in my opinion, street wise and savvy,” she said.
“Mr Wallis was a much-loved son and the family’s grief at their loss is considerable.”
Judge Williams told Smith that during the course of the attack she believed he formed the intent to kill his cousin because of the pressure he put on his neck. A bone in Mr Wallis’ larynx was fractured.
Jailing him for life Judge Williams said Smith would have to serve a minimum of 18 years in prison before he could be considered for parole and would not be released after that until the parole board believed it was safe to do so.
Jonathan Mann QC, defending, said it was not a planned or premeditated killing. He said Smith had a very low IQ and was emotionally immature and dealt with a crisis by drinking alcohol.
Det Insp Ivan Beasley, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: "Just days before Danny was killed Smith had been shouting up to his flat and threatening to murder him.
"He wasn't just a son, he was his dad's best mate" - the family of Danny Wallis
"The victim died from a compression of the neck but also had a number of other injuries including two black eyes as well as cuts and bruising.
"Smith waited almost a day before he called emergency services and then claimed the death was accidental.
"During this time he visited acquaintances and even went to the pub where he spent an afternoon drinking.
"The jury has returned the right verdict today and I only hope this will be of some comfort to Danny’s family."
The family of Danny Wallis today issued the following statement: ‘No amount of justice will bring our son back.
"He spent most days with us and would always help us out. He was kind and loyal and greatly missed by all the family.
"He wasn't just a son, he was his dad's best mate."