Published: 16:26, 01 September 2020
| Updated: 07:50, 02 September 2020
A man murdered his wheelchair-bound amputee neighbour in a violent frenzy before burning his body and buying a burger with his victim's bank card.
Michael Bryant, who bludgeoned amputee Alan Wyatt to death at his Gillingham home on Valentine's Day last year, has been jailed for life after killing the defenceless pensioner.
CCTV footage shows Bryant visiting shops and a Burger King after the murder
The police inspector leading the investigation described the scene at Mr Wyatt's home as the worst he has ever seen in his 30-year career.
Bryant initially denied murder and arson but midway through his trial in March, the 36-year-old dramatically changed his plea and admitted manslaughter and arson.
But the prosecution rejected the lesser charge of manslaughter as the defence requested psychological reports to be carried out.
Bryant today pleaded guilty to murder and has been sentenced to a minimum term of 28 years behind bars.
Mr Wyatt, 68, was killed at his home in Firethorn Close in The Vineries after he complained about his neighbour's alleged drug dealings, Maidstone Crown Court heard in March .
The hearing was told Mr Wyatt had suffered multiple injuries to his head and his face "was stoved in" with a hammer, meat cleaver and knife.
A post-mortem report said he died of a "severe traumatic head injury".
Several members of Mr Wyatt's family were in court to hear the sentencing verdict.
A statement read to the court on their behalf said the whole family had been left "devastated, empty and traumatised".
"Alan meant something different to all of us. He loved being around his family. He was a cheerful happy man, and was always happy to see you," they said.
"What we would give for one more chat with him, putting the world to rights.
"He was the life and soul of the party. He had a mischievous, dirty laugh and a great sense of humour.
"Our lives have been turned upside down. His life was tragically cut short. We were deprived of our right to say goodbye to him, we lost him in the most horrific way possible."
Mr Wyatt's family also released a statement following the sentencing telling of their pain of losing him.
The family said: "Alan’s life was tragically cut short by the wilful actions of a so called friend and neighbour who took it upon himself to murder a frail, defenceless, wheelchair-bound amputee in the most brutal way.
"We were deprived of our right to say a proper goodbye to him in the most horrific circumstances imaginable.
"The last memory some family members have of Alan is a green tarpaulin on a public walkway outside his home, covering the body of the man we all loved. We will all be haunted forever by the truly horrific act of evil that took Alan away from us."
They also delivered a statement directly at Bryant saying their hoped he too would "feel the pain, emptiness and hurt we are going through for the rest of his life".
"You have deprived our family of a brother, uncle, cousin and nephew - but also a dad and a grandad to people who never got the chance to know him and love him like we did.
"You made us sit through weeks of a court trial listening to the most horrific injuries that Alan sustained in the most brutal way. "We could have been spared this heartache and the details if you had only admitted to your guilt sooner.
"Alan will always be remembered and will always be in our thoughts and our hearts."
The family thanked the police officers including Det Ch Insp Tristan Kluibenschadl, Det Sgt Alastair Worton and DC Catherine Holmes "for their hard work in bringing this case to court, for their kindness and respect to our family, for their updates throughout this time and ensuring us that justice will be served" and their family liaison officer PC Jessica Summers who "kept us going".
The statement added: "Alan’s family must now come to terms with the senselessness and wanton disregard for human life inflicted by this man. Time is a healer but memories good and bad last forever."
"We were deprived of our right to say a proper goodbye to him in the most horrific circumstances imaginable..."
Bryant, who had heroin, cocaine and cannabis in his system when he was arrested, had changed his clothes but traces of Mr Wyatt's blood was found on his face.
Judge Adele Williams said Bryant carried out a "merciless and prolonged" attack and had done everything he could to "evade responsibility".
The court heard Bryant did not suffer from any mental illness and admitted to an associate he had killed someone.
CCTV footage showed him visiting a Burger King and a newsagents just 45 minutes after the brutal attack where he used the victim's bank card to make purchases.
Det Ch Insp Tristan Kluibenschadl, investigating officer, said: "It's a good sentence but of course it's never going to be enough for the family who have lost their loved one in Alan.
"The trial process was a significant length and the defendant messed that around considerably and it prolonged their agony and grieving process. I'm pleased we're at the end of the court process as no doubt the family are as well.
"In 30 years of being a police officer it was the most harrowing scene I've ever attended and I've been working on homicide for some time.
"It was relentless with multiple weapons used. It was a horrendous attack.
"Alan Wyatt was a vulnerable man and used a wheelchair to get around, an amputee with other health issues. Bryant exploited that and attacked a vulnerable man in the most horrific way possible."
The court heard Mr Wyatt and Bryant had a "trusted relationship" before the murder when Mr Wyatt had raised issues surrounding suspected drug deals Bryant was carrying out at the block of flats where they both lived.
Witnesses said Bryant was seen knocking on the door of the property between 7.15am and 7.30am but Mr Wyatt's son received a text message shortly after 8am.
Mr Wyatt's brother, sister-in-law and neighbour then arrived at the house at about 10am to find the property ablaze and could see the victim inside the bedroom.
Watch KMTV's report on the sentencings
The court was told Mr Wyatt was first attacked in the lounge before being dragged to the bedroom where the savage assault continued.