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Chatham man cleared of murdering convicted child rapist who was found dead at house in Borstal

A dad of two who "exploded" and beat a child rapist to death has been cleared of murder.

Jurors took just under 12 hours to find Simon Brown not guilty at Maidstone Crown Court today (Thursday).

Simon Brown, from Chatham, stood trial for murder after the death of William Rowe. Picture: Facebook
Simon Brown, from Chatham, stood trial for murder after the death of William Rowe. Picture: Facebook

Although the 28-year-old had admitted the manslaughter of paedophile William Rowe, he maintained he never intended to kill the 71-year-old or to cause him really serious harm.

He told jurors that he lost his temper after the pensioner "bragged and boasted" about his past when confronted with a KentOnline article from 2012 reporting his conviction for multiple offences of sexual abuse on a young girl.

It also referred to an earlier conviction in 1984 for indecent assault of another child.

Brown described how he lashed out in a "blanket of rage" which he could not control - and left Mr Rowe with multiple injuries to his head, neck and torso, including as many as 27 rib fractures.

The grim discovery of his lifeless body at the home of mutual friend Rose Ripley in Mercury Close, Borstal, near Rochester, was made by police on September 5 last year following a 999 call from Brown's distraught mum.

She revealed how her son had arrived at the home they shared in Snowdon Close, Chatham, and, crying, told her "I am so scared. I beat this man up. I think I killed him. He was a nonce. He brutally raped a two-year-old. I just beat him up. I went mad."

Bodyworn camera footage of his arrest was played during his trial and showed him vomiting and repeatedly breaking down in tears.

In a statement read to the court, Kay Brown spoke of her son's "drunken rages" during which he would damage her property.

She added that his more recent "outbursts" were the result of his break-up with the mother of his young children and not having a home of his own.

Simon Brown, from Chatham, has admitted manslaughter. Picture: Facebook
Simon Brown, from Chatham, has admitted manslaughter. Picture: Facebook

Ms Brown also explained her son had been diagnosed with ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) when he was 10 years old but later stopped taking his medication due to his high blood pressure.

Describing herself as being "hysterical" when he told her of his attack on Mr Rowe, she added: "I'm in complete shock by this. Simon has a temper but I can't believe that this has happened."

A consultant psychologist who examined Brown post-arrest concluded that his ADHD predisposed him to compulsive behaviour and "jumping into actions without thinking."

The jury of eight women and four men took 11 hours and 44 minutes to acquit him of murder.

Judge Julian Smith adjourned sentencing on the manslaughter charge until June 14 and requested reports to consider any danger posed.

But he warned Brown, who has been in custody since his arrest, that he now faced a lengthy jail term.

"You have been convicted on your own plea of manslaughter and that is obviously going to attract a very substantial sentence," said Judge Smith.

"You must prepare yourself for that."

Brown simply thanked the judge before leaving court.

It had been alleged by the prosecution that the defence contention Brown never intended to cause serious harm or to kill Mr Rowe was "simply not true" and "wholly undermined" by the severity of the injuries suffered.

Furthermore, said prosecutor Julian Evans KC, the fact the victim was a convicted paedophile did not "justify or excuse such awful violence".

The court was told Mr Rowe, formerly from Dartford, had been convicted of three offences of child rape, three of indecent assault and one of gross indecency following a trial at the same court in November 2012.

Having been jailed for 10 years, he was released from prison in 2022 and moved to Gillingham. He also had a boat - a derelict police launch - moored at a marina on the River Medway in Rochester.

It was there that he met Ms Ripley and, having become friends, she offered him a place to stay if he was ever homeless.

She had also asked him to decorate her house and it was there in the early hours of September 4 that the sex offender was subjected to what the prosecution described as a violent and sustained assault.

Brown told the court Ms Ripley, 34, had shown him the KentOnline article - headlined 'Dartford rapist William Rowe locked up for brutal sex attacks on young girl two decades ago' - but he maintained the violence was only triggered when the pensioner laughed and dismissed his crimes as "a bit of fun".

Child rapist William Rowe, 71, was killed after a fatal attack in Borstal last September. Picture: Kent Police
Child rapist William Rowe, 71, was killed after a fatal attack in Borstal last September. Picture: Kent Police

He admitted punching and kicking Mr Rowe but denied stamping on him or being urged by his victim to stop the onslaught.

Brown also maintained that when he and Ms Ripley left the house "in panic", the unconscious pensioner was still breathing.

However, the court heard he neither summoned help and it was more than 27 hours later that the 999 call was made.

Police broke into Ms Ripley's property to find Mr Rowe covered in a blanket, propped upright against a sofa and sitting on the bloodstained living room carpet with his head and upper body tightly wrapped in a towel.

He was partially-dressed in a T-shirt, underwear and one sock.

As well as the rib fractures and a "significant" brain injury, he had suffered fractures to his nose and eye area, multiple lacerations, bruising, and a tooth had also been knocked out.

A pathologist later concluded that cause of death was blunt force trauma.

Outlining the prosecution case, Mr Evans told the court that Mr Rowe had not done anything to provoke the "brutal" assault.

Describing Brown as the "aggressor", he said: "For some reason, he attacked Mr Rowe, an attack he carried out in temper and anger and, more than likely, in drink. And in the course of that attack, the defendant used overwhelming force.

"That force he used was unlawful. None of the force directed at Mr Rowe in the course of that attack was in self-defence. Far from it.

The trial was heard at Maidstone Crown Court
The trial was heard at Maidstone Crown Court

"Rather, say the prosecution, this was unlawful and sustained violence. And it was at the hands of a strong young man, then aged 27, against a much less robust and much older man aged 71.

"It was violence accompanied at the very least with an intention to cause really serious harm."

However, Brown told the jury he only lashed out when Mr Rowe boasted that his sexual offending "wasn't the first time and probably wouldn't be the last".

"I just kept thinking he had raped an innocent child and I exploded," explained Brown.

He could not recall how many times he struck the pensioner or where the blows landed.

But when asked by his barrister David Hislop KC whether he had intended to cause really serious harm to the pensioner or to kill him, Brown replied: "God no. Definitely not. No."

He estimated the assault lasted "not even a minute" and that Ms Ripley did not try to stop him.

Brown, who until his arrest had worked repairing underground cables, said although he had wanted to call an ambulance for the injured Mr Rowe, Ms Ripley told him she "didn't want police at her door".

The court heard Ms Ripley was also arrested on suspicion of murder but later released without charge.

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