Newton Abbot killer laughs as he is jailed for murdering man who took him into his home
MURDERER Brian Harris will spent at least 18 years behind bars after 'beating to death' the man who took him into his Newton Abbot home.
Harris, 45, was given a life sentence at Exeter Crown Court for attacking and killing Paul Drury with his fists, feet and a frying pan.
A jury took three hours to convict Harris, a registered sex offender with a violent criminal past, of murdering Mr Drury and beating his own girlfriend Dawn Lewis in a violent incident at Mr Drury's Valley Path home last November.
The jury of six men and six women rejected Harris's defence that he lost self-control and flew into a rage when he caught Mr Drury and Ms Lewis having sex together.
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They found him guilty of one count of murder and one of attempted grievous bodily harm with intent.
Some of Mr Drury's family and friends, who packed the public gallery, burst into tears and hugged each other after the verdict.
Harris, wearing a blue T-shirt and dark trousers, laughed when the verdicts were returned.
Mr Justice Evans imposed a life sentence with a minimum of 18 years. The events happened between November 11 and November 14.
Harris and Ms Lewis were in a relationship. Harris had been homeless for 27 years before meeting Ms Lewis, living all over the country.
The pair moved in with Mr Drury, who lived independently despite learning difficulties, six weeks before the incident.
They had been evicted from Miss Lewis's flat after authorities obtained a house closure order because of repeated anti-social behaviour.
On the Saturday, the couple collected a drunk Mr Drury from The Locomotive pub in Newton Abbot. They stopped at the One Stop shop in Ashburton Road to buy alcohol and went home and drank and watched television in Mr Drury's bedroom where the one working television was kept.
Harris later fell asleep and when he woke said he found Mr Drury and Ms Lewis having sex downstairs.
The court heard he flew into a rage, lost self-control and attacked the pair, beating Mr Drury with such force it dented the pan.
Ms Lewis suffered a split lip, two black eyes and bruised chest and shoulders.
Mr Drury's lifeless body was at the foot of the staircase and was being cradled by his friend Sheila Browning when emergency services arrived.
DNA tests showed blood on Harris' clothes, found at the scene, matched that of Mr Drury and Ms Lewis.
Harris initially claimed he had 'fought off' a group of four people who went to the house and attacked Mr Drury and Ms Lewis.
He changed his story after police interviews and said he attacked Ms Lewis and Mr Drury after catching them. He denied using the frying pan saying he only fought with his 'fists'.
Mr Justice Evans said: "You assaulted Mr Drury with such ferocity you inflicted on him devastating and fatal injuries. You punched him, used your feet on him and used a frying pan to beat him. In short, you beat him to death.
"You also beat Ms Lewis. Fortunately, it was not so ferocious or with such devastating results but you punched, kicked and stamped on her causing her injuries."
It emerged Harris has lived a life of crime with previous convictions for robbery, theft and violence, including assaulting a former partner. He is a registered sex offender having served prison sentences for indecently assaulting children aged under 14.
Harris submitted a letter to Mr Justice Evans expressing his remorse — a sentiment the judge rejected as 'a wholly unconvincing' declaration. He questioned Harris's account given to the court saying he 'strongly' suspected he had lied.
Harris was given a life sentence to serve a minimum of 18 years for murdering Mr Drury. For the attack on Ms Lewis, he was given eight years to serve concurrently.