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Reepham hammer murderer loses appeal

PUBLISHED: 13:22 02 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:27 07 July 2010

A Norfolk man who beat to death his elderly neighbour with a hammer has failed to convince top judges that a judge spoke too quickly at his trial.

Colin Roy Barker, 65, was jailed for life in October last year at Norwich Crown Court for murdering 79-year-old Heather Burton, from Reepham in 2007.

A Norfolk man who beat to death his elderly neighbour with a hammer has failed to convince top judges that a judge spoke too quickly at his trial.

Colin Roy Barker, 65, was jailed for life in October last year at Norwich Crown Court for murdering 79-year-old Heather Burton, from Reepham in 2007.

Barker was ordered to serve a minimum of 15 years behind bars.

In London's Appeal Court on Friday he argued, amongst other things, that the trial judge spoke too fast for the jury to take in what he was saying.

However, Justice Foskett said there was "no reason" to suppose the jury was unable to follow the judge's words, adding that there was also "no suggestion that the jury rushed their deliberations".

He said Barker had on the surface seemed the perfect neighbour, seeing Mrs Burton regularly and "getting on well" with her.

Barker was the man who claimed to have "discovered" her battered body early on a Saturday morning in November 2007 while visiting to check she was "alright", although the prosecution said this was a clumsy ruse to avert suspicion.

He was linked to the crime by the victim's blood traces found on his clothing, and by witnesses who saw him coming and going from her house in Sun Barn Walk, Reepham, at suspicious times.

No motive was established for the killing.

Barker, whose address was given on court documents as High Street, Cromer, presented his own grounds of appeal as he challenged the jury's verdict.

He claimed the trial judge mishandled his summing-up of the case to the jury, delivering his speech at too fast a pace for the jurors to take it in.

Despite Barker's protestations of innocence, he had been convicted on overwhelming evidence, said Judge Foskett, before concluding that Barker had come forward with "nothing capable of rendering the conviction arguably unsafe".


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