Published: 12:28, 17 November 2017
A vulnerable well-off grandfather was brutally murdered in his flat by a man who left behind his palm and fingerprints on the door of an oven, a court heard.
Steve Berry’s bloodied body was found on the kitchen floor by a neighbour, who was at first suspected of being the killer.
But the suspicion shifted to Paul Campbell after forensic tests discovered his palm and fingerprints on the oven, Maidstone Crown Court was told.
Campbell claimed he had never been to the 59-year-old alcoholic’s home in Kinross Close, Princes Park, Chatham, and could not explain how his prints came to be there.
Prosecutor Richard Jory QC said the manner of Mr Berry’s killing was “particularly violent”.
He had a number of “blunt trauma” wounds with extensive bleeding to his head, a fractured skull, brain damage and a cluster of other wounds.
There were defensive injuries to his hands, indicating he had struggled with his attacker.
Graham Fitzgerald, who lived in the ground floor flat opposite, found Mr Berry’s body on the afternoon of Sunday, July 12 2015.
He ventured in after noticing a strong smell and seeing Mr Berry’s door slightly ajar. After finding the body he called the emergency services.
“It appears the likely fatal assault on Mr Berry took place some time in the afternoon or evening of Friday, July 10,” said Mr Jory.
“For that reason the known whereabouts of individuals and this defendant at that time are critical, for very obvious reasons.
“What we do know is during the course of lengthy police interviews Mr Campbell lied about where he was during that Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“He accepts he told untruths to the police when spoken to about that period of time. From the scientific examination of the flat there is one item of evidence that points overwhelmingly to the involvement of Mr Campbell in Mr Berry’s murder.”
Mr Jory said the palm and fingerprints were low down on the cooker less than 2ft from the floor next to where the lifeless body was discovered.
“There were distinct and clear fingerprints and palm prints on the door of the oven,” he told the jury of six men and six women.
Mr Berry’s daughter-in-law had cleaned the oven when it was first installed in the flat two years earlier, he said, so the fingerprints must have been put there afterwards.
“This means he was undoubtedly in the flat and was in a position quite low down very close to where the lifeless body of Mr Berry was found,” said Mr Jory.
When arrested on July 26, Campbell denied ever going to the flat or knowing Mr Berry. He could think of no explanation why his fingerprints were on the oven.
“The only logical explanation is Mr Campbell was there and he was involved in the murder of Mr Berry,” said Mr Jory. “Whether he was involved alone or even perhaps with others, we don’t know. We will probably never know.
“You might find it useful, please, to concentrate on the forensic evidence.”
Campbell, of Farley Close, Chatham, denies murder.
The trial continues.
More by this authorKeith Hunt