A plasterer who murdered his twin brother in a drunken fight on New Year's Eve
has been given a life sentence and will serve a minimum of 13 years.<
Robert Cerqua, 32, was convicted yesterday of killing his brother Christopher,
a carpenter, by a jury of nine men and three women at Winchester Crown Court
after almost 16 hours of deliberations.<
The trial heard that Cerqua stabbed his twin in a "fit of temper" following
an argument that took place in the kitchen of the family house in Langdown Road,
Hythe, Hampshire, on December 31 last year.<
Sentencing Cerqua, who was wearing a shirt and tie, judge Mr Justice Teare
said: "You have been found guilty by the jury of the murder of your twin
brother Christopher on New Year's Eve last year.<
"His death and its consequences have had, and will continue to have, a
devastating effect on your parents and those close to you.<
"You grew up with your brother and from time to time worked with him in the
building trade. When you were both sober, it seems you got on well.<
"But when each of you had too much alcohol, there was a risk an argument might
break out leading to violence. That had happened before and it happened on New
"On New Year's Eve you and he were drinking in the kitchen of your parents'
home. It's unlikely that violence was on your mind or your brother's mind when
you started drinking.<
"From 6pm to 8pm, it's gathered from the record of text messages that all was
well. However, as soon as you both drank more, it seems that you feared a fight
might break out.<
"Then an argument and a fight broke out, quite why is not known, but it did.<
"Whether you picked up a kitchen knife from the worktop or your brother did is
also not clear but what is clear is that you ended up with the knife in your
hand and you stabbed your brother in the abdomen, causing a fatal wound."<
The court heard that Cerqua had served previous prison sentences for offences
of battery and affray relating to domestic incidents involving his former
He also had previous convictions for motoring offences and criminal damage.<
Nicholas Haggan QC told the trial that Cerqua, who had been drinking, got
involved in an argument with his brother which then turned violent.<
He said the parents of the twins, Peter and Denise Cerqua, were present in the
property, where both sons also lived, when the fight took place in the kitchen.<
Mr Haggan said Mrs Cerqua dialled 999 to ask for police assistance and during
the call, which was played to the jury, her husband called out to his wife
asking for an ambulance before he shouted: "He's stabbed him."<
The jury was shown photographs of the kitchen, which showed several crushed
empty cans of Stella Artois lager alongside party food.<
Mr Haggan said the defendant fled the property bare-foot and called his
girlfriend, who took him to a friend's party where he continued to get drunk.<
He said: "This is a tragic case. It involves the killing by this defendant,
Robert Cerqua, of his identical twin brother, Christopher Cerqua.<
"The incident which led to Christopher's death occurred in the kitchen of the
family home in Hythe, where both their mother and father were present in the
"In a nutshell, it was New Year's Eve last year, both brothers had been
drinking, shortly before 9pm an argument started between the two brothers.<
"That argument appears to have turned into a tussle, punches may have been
exchanged, at some point this defendant picked up a kitchen knife and he used it
to stab his brother Christopher.<
"Having done so, the defendant fled the family home. He didn't even stop to
take the time to put on a pair of shoes before he left the house.<
"He telephoned his girlfriend, who picked him up in her car and took him to a
friend's house where a New Year's Eve party was in full swing.<
"The defendant turned off his mobile phone which meant that he could not be
contacted by the police.<
"He stayed at that New Year's Eve party until the police traced him to that
address and he was arrested on suspicion of murder. By then he was very
Mr Haggan said that Cerqua inflicted a single stab wound to his brother's lower
stomach which was about seven inches deep.<
He said the defendant told police he had acted in self-defence.<
He explained that DNA found on this knife matched both the defendant and his
brother because, as identical twins, they shared the same DNA profile.<
Mr Haggan said a blood test showed that Christopher had 230mg of alcohol in
80ml of blood - almost three times the drink-drive limit - and Robert told
police he had drunk six cans of lager and two glasses of red wine before leaving
He also told police that he had a "fiery relationship" with his brother and
drink could make him "nasty" and "short-tempered".
A 26-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a body was found in a car fire in Dartford.
Kent Police is treating the death of a woman, named locally as Donna Eastwood, as an isolated, targeted attack.
They believe the offender and the victim knew each other and say there is no information to suggest the public are in danger.
Emergency services were called to Rowhill Road in the Dartford area early on Saturday morning after the woman's body was found in a burning car.
The arrest comes after officers and a police helicopter have been conducting searches of the local area.
Flowers have been laid in tribute to a woman whose body was found in a burning vehicle in Kent.
Police began a murder inquiry after emergency services were called to Rowhill Road in the Dartford area early on Saturday morning.
The victim has been named locally as Donna Eastwood, a mother of four, whose former partner is understood to have been Kevin McKinley, who was shot dead last year.
Michaela Sargeant, 25, was convicted of the manslaughter of the 32-year-old outside her home in Overy Street, Dartford. She was sentenced to eight years in prison.
The burnt out car has now been removed from the scene, leaving scorch marks on the ground.
The police helicopter has been helping officers search the Wilmington area.
Kent Police has launched a murder investigation after a body was found at the scene of a vehicle fire in Rowhill Road, Dartford at 5.30am this morning.
Officers, with the assistance of the police helicopter, have been conducting searches of the local area as part of their investigations.
No arrests have been made at this stage but enquiries are on-going.
A man who murdered his wife in a staged car accident and tried to kill his second in a copycat crash has launched a fresh bid to clear his name. Malcolm Webster, who's 55, was jailed for a minimum of thirty years for killing Claire Morris from Upchurch, Kent in the planned crash in Aberdeenshire in 1994 and attempting to kill Felicity Drumm in New Zealand in 1999 to claim insurance money. The former nurse, from Guildford, Surrey, was handed the life sentence after being convicted of the crimes in May 2011 following a five-month trial.
A drug dealer's beginning a life sentence tonight, after mowing down a client who cheated him, with his car. The murder happened in Gillingham last January. John Ryall reports
A tenth male has been arrested over the murder of a man who died in a street stabbing. Hassan Mohammed, 24, from Camberwell, south east London, was found dead in York Road, Southend, Essex, at about 7pm on Monday. He had suffered two stab wounds.
A 17-year-old from Southend was arrested by officers last night at an address in Burdett Avenue, Westcliff. He is being questioned at Southend police station. Three other males, one aged 17 and two aged 18, and from north London, who were arrested on Wednesday remain in custody.
Six males aged between 17 and 19 who were arrested on Monday have now been released with no further action in relation to the murder, police added. Witnesses should contact detectives at Southend on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Three men who murdered an Italian waiter in Maidstone last year have been sentenced to life imprisonment.
Alexandras Zuravliovas, Salulius Tamoliunas and Linas Zidonas were yesterday found guilty of murder and grievous bodily harm after they drunkenly attacked 20-year old Joelle Leotta at a flat on Lower Stone Street.
Zuravliovas will serve a minimum term of 21 years; the others will be in prison for at least 20 years. The judge said the attack "outrages and horrifies the collective conscience of our community"
A man from Folkestone has been sentenced to life in prison for beating a father of two to death in a jealous rage. The court heard that Brian Sharp had become obsessively jealous of his victim's friendship with his girlfriend.
The judge said Sharp had shown 'not one flicker of remorse' after his 'cold hearted and callous attack.' on Tim Clayton, who was sleeping rough at the time.
Sarah Saunders spoke to Mr Clayton's mother and father, Anna and John; his daughter Jess and Det Chief Inspector Paul Fotheringham from Kent Police.