Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Two men handed life sentences for murdering businessman during botched robbery

Jason Baccus and Kevin Downton killed businessman Guy Hedger during a robbery. Credit: Dorset Police

Two men have been ordered to serve at least 34 years in prison each for murdering a businessman during a botched robbery.

'Amateurish and incompetent' thieves Jason Baccus and Kevin Downton killed Guy Hedger in his own home in Castlewood, Ashley, near Ringwood, Hampshire.

The robbers had broken into the £1 million property at around 3am in April last year and demanded Mr Hedger and his partner hand over valuables.

Downton shot Mr Hedger, 61, with a sawn-off shotgun after he failed to give them the code to the personal safe and his husband, Simon Hedger-Cooper, hit a panic alarm.

Guy Hedger was remembered as 'creative, caring and gentle' by his husband. Credit: Dorset Police

A judge said that Mr Hedger's husband would forever be "tormented" by the thought that he might have avoided the murder as she handed the pair life sentences.

"This was the collision of two worlds: one of those worlds has been permanently torn asunder," judge Mr Justice Jay told the pair during sentencing at Winchester Crown Court.

"The planning was amateurish and incompetent but that doesn't diminish the culpability of what happened."

He added: "Nothing I can say could possibly prevent Mr Hedger-Cooper continuing to be tormented by the thought that, if only he had not pressed the panic button,his partner might still be alive today.

"This counter-factual cannot of course be answered. More importantly, the decision to press that button was not irrational and it was made in circumstances of extreme stress. Many of us would have done exactly the same."

Police searching the area near the murder scene. Credit: PA

Baccus, 42, of Verney Close, Bournemouth, Dorset, and Downton, 40, of Winterborne Stickland, near Blandford, fled with £124,000 worth of jewellery after the robbery but were later caught.

They denied murder, but were found guilty following a 40-day trial.

The jury ruled that although Downton had pulled the trigger, both men were guilty as they were both aware that a gun had been taken and was likely to be used if the robbery did not go as planned.

Mr Justice Jay said both men must serve at least 34 years before they can be considered for parole.

Baccus and Downton were given concurrent jail sentences for offences of aggravated burglary with a firearm, possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, and two charges of burglary of industrial buildings.

A third defendant, Scott Keeping, 44, also of Verney Close, was found not guilty of murder and his wife, Helen Keeping, 40, was also cleared of two counts of assisting an offender.

Court artist sketch of Scott Keeping, Jason Baccus and Kevin Downton during their trial. Credit: PA

In a statement read to the court, Mr Hedger-Cooper, 48, described his partner as "his rock" and said that he was "devastated" at his death.

"Guy was an intelligent, creative, caring and gentle man," he said.

"Guy worked hard his whole adult life, he deserved what he had worked for, he deserved to enjoy the fruits of his labour and he deserved to still be with me today."

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Derbyshire, of Dorset Police, said: "Nothing will ever bring Guy back but I hope the verdict of the jury will bring some level of comfort that his attackers are firmly behind bars."