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  1. ITV Report

Killers jailed for 'sickening' Boxing Day murder captured on phone

(L-R) Killers Craig Barstow and Craig Fletcher Credit: Cleveland Police

Two men have been jailed for more than 51 years for murdering a man on Boxing Day in Middlesbrough.

Gavin Barnes was killed in a flat on Eston High Street by Craig Barstow and Craig Fletcher in a brutal attack recorded on a mobile phone.

Barstow, 31, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 26-and-a-half years while Fletcher, 33, was locked up for 25 years. They had previously admitted the murder.

Gavin Barnes was killed in a flat on Eston High Street on Boxing Day 2018 Credit: NCJMEDIA SYNDICATION

Barstow, of Steele Crescent, South Bank, was also sentenced to three years for a separate robbery, which he had admitted. That sentence will run concurrently.

Prosecutor Peter Makepeace QC told Teesside Crown Court that Mr Barnes died from a severe blunt force head injury with multiple impacts to the head causing skull and facial fractures, brain damage and severe swelling.

The injuries could only have been caused by very forceful stamping, kicking or a weapon.

Credit: NCJMEDIA SYNDICATION

Mr Makepeace described how the victim, who had issues with alcohol and relapsed on Christmas Day, sleeping rough in Eston Square, had been drinking with Fletcher and Barstow.

But at some point, the court heard, Barstow took drunken exception to Mr Barnes for no good reason - and launched into a sustained, torturous attack.

Credit: NCJMEDIA SYNDICATION

Footage of the murder taken from Fletcher's own mobile phone was shown to the court - but it was so graphic, the public gallery was cleared as it was played.

It showed the victim lying on the kitchen floor in a dishevelled state and then, two hours later at around 6.30pm, it again showed Mr Barnes had “received a very severe beating and is utterly helpless".

It showed Barstow dragging Mr Barnes along a corridor. Fletcher was filming and commentating throughout, sometimes taking part in the violence.

Mr Barnes was in distress and unable to speak or make coherent noise except “guttural expressions of pain”.

Both murderers were "laughing throughout" the attack.

The men slapped Mr Barnes, and Barstow kicked him with steel toe-capped rigger boots. Fletcher could be heard saying: "He’s hanging on for a long time this kid isn’t he."

The footage then shows Barstow dragging Mr Barnes from the flat by his underwear shouting “Google me”.

He slammed the door on Mr Barnes’ lifeless body and looked up at the camera smiling. Both were laughing, Barstow saying: “I told him not to wind me up… he started it.”

Fletcher filmed blood on himself and said: "Looks like a murder scene." At one point, a dog bowl was placed in front of the helpless victim. After further degrading and sadistic attacks, Fletcher said: "I video-recorded a murder. Finish him off then." Barstow replied: "He's dead."

The violence lasted more than three hours.

  • The Recorder of Middlesbrough, Simon Bourne Arton QC said:

Both of you can now go down. Gavin Barnes was 35 when he died. He was 35 when you killed him.

He died as a result of a sustained, brutal, callous and above all cowardly attack by you.

No sentence I impose upon you can begin to compensate his family and his friends.

Nothing I do or say can help them in their grief.

– Simon Bourne Arton QC
Credit: NCJMEDIA SYNDICATION