Murdered 'perhaps for no reason at all'

Hayley Mace Two young men were yesterday found guilty of murdering a terminally-ill Lowestoft man who was killed just before he was due to spend his last Christmas with his family.

Hayley Mace

Two young men were yesterday found guilty of murdering a terminally-ill Lowestoft man who was killed just before he was due to spend his last Christmas with his family.

Father-of-three John Vry left his home in London Road South, Lowestoft, on the evening of December 3 last year to buy some chips for his dinner.

Shortly after leaving the shop, he was confronted by James Killingback, 23, and 17-year-old Aaron Breffitt. He was then dragged into an alleyway and held down while being kicked and punched, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Mr Vry, 55, died from his injuries in hospital the following day and yesterday, a jury at Ipswich Crown Court found Killingback, of Denmark Road in Lowestoft, and Breffitt, of no fixed address, guilty of his murder after a three-week trial.

Mr Vry, a former electrician, had been diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer in summer 2008 and had been given a life expectancy of between three and six months. At the time of his death, he was preparing to spend his final Christmas with his wife, Valerie, and their three children.

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The jury took eight hours to convict Breffitt and Killingback of murder and, following the guilty verdicts, judge John Devaux agreed to lift a court order banning the publication of Breffitt's name which had been imposed earlier in the proceedings because of his age.

During the trial, the jury heard that Mr Vry was found injured in the alleyway off London Road South by his son John Vry junior, who had gone out to look for his father when he did not return from the chip shop.

A post-mortem examination found that he had suffered a severe head injury which had caused brain damage and bleeding around the brain.

Karim Khalil, prosecuting, told the court that the pair had chosen a “defenceless victim” and had “literally kicked him to death” for a reason only they knew, or perhaps no reason at all.

During the trial, Killingback denied being involved in the attack and claimed he had been smoking heroin at a friend's house at the time. Breffitt chose not to give evidence.

The case has been adjourned until next month for sentencing to allow for up-to-date reports to be prepared on Breffitt. The two have been remanded in custody until they return to court to be sentenced.

In a statement, Mr Vry's family said yesterday: “John Vry was a great man who was well thought of and respected by family, friends and all who knew him. He was a true 'rough diamond' and will be a loss to us all.

“The justice system and the verdict will never replace the months of John's life that were stolen with this crime.

“We would like to thank all of hose witnesses who came to court to give evidence, and the police for the investigation and the support they have provided to us over the past months.

“This has been a difficult time for the family, and we would now like to be left to get on with our lives in peace.”

The inspector who led the investigation into Mr Vry's death yesterday described his murder as a “callous attack on an innocent man.”

Senior investigating officer Det Chief Insp Neil Luckett said that he still did not know what prompted Killingback and Breffitt to attack the father-of-three.

“This was a sustained and callous attack on an innocent man who had left his family to go to the shops. He was suffering from a serious medical condition which made him all the more vulnerable. To date, we still do not know the motive.

“These types of offence are extremely rare. It is very unusual for an innocent member of the public to be attacked in this manner and the conviction will hopefully show others who may be intent on similar types of assault the consequences of their actions,” he said.

He added: “I would like to pay tribute to Mr Vry's family, who have been through a difficult period maintaining their quiet dignity. I hope this result may, at least in some small way, allow them now to move on.

“I would also like to thank a number of witnesses who attended to give evidence in difficult circumstances and the investigation and prosecution teams who worked extremely hard to bring this case to a satisfactory conclusion.”