Homophobic murderers jailed for killing Dr Gary Jenkins have sentence appeals refused

Earlier this year, a judge ruled that Dr Gary Jenkins' three killers each played an equal part in beating the father-of-two to death and would all serve life sentences.

Two men who murdered a psychiatrist in a Cardiff park during a "ferocious" homophobic attack have had appeals to reduce their prison sentence refused.

Dr Gary Jenkins, 54, was beaten and suffered multiple severe brain injuries in Bute Park on 20 July 2021, dying as a result 16 days later.

Jason Edwards, 26, and Lee Strickland, 36, were jailed for life along with Dionne Timms-Williams, 18, for killing Dr Jenkins - who they targeted because of his sexuality.

Edwards and Strickland were ordered to serve minimum terms of 33 years, while Timms-Williams – who was a youth at the time – was detained for at least 17 years.

The Court of Appeal considered applications by Edwards and Strickland that their sentences handed down in March were “manifestly excessive”.

Three judges, sitting in Cardiff on Wednesday (9 November), denied Edwards and Strickland leave to bring their appeals.

Both Edwards and Strickland were given life imprisonment sentences, with a minimum of 33 years, for murdering Dr Gary Jenkins. Credit: South Wales Police

Lord Justice Holroyde, sitting with Mrs Justice Foster and Mr Justice Griffiths, described how the three murderers “punched, kicked and stamped” on 54-year-old Dr Jenkins during the attack, which lasted up to 30 minutes.

There were a number of aggravating features to the murder, including that it was committed during a robbery and that it was homophobic, the judges said.

“There were other aggravating factors identified by the judge – the sustained ferocity of the attack, the murder being committed jointly by three people, the deliberately degrading way the victim was left,” Mr Justice Griffiths said.

Referring to Strickland, Mr Justice Griffiths said: “There are a large number of aggravating features. We therefore dismiss Strickland’s application for leave.”

Both Strickland and Edwards had a lengthy list of previous convictions, Cardiff Crown Court heard.

Mr Justice Griffiths said Edwards shared “full responsibility for the attack” and the minimum term of 33 years in prison was justified.

“It was a long sentence but cannot be said to be manifestly excessive of the facts of this case,” the judge added.

“We don’t consider Edwards’ appeal against sentence to be arguable and we therefore dismiss Edwards’ application for leave.”

Neither Edwards nor Strickland were present during the hearing.

Dr Jenkins was fatally attacked at Bute Park, in Cardiff city centre, in the early hours of July 20 2021. Credit: Media Wales

A trial at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court earlier this year heard a 15 minute audio clip of the attack, where father-of-two Dr Jenkins can be heard pleading with his attackers to leave him alone. The jury where also shown CCTV pictures of Edwards, Strickland and Timms-Williams in the moments after the attack, hugging and smiling.

The trio admitted to killing Dr Jenkins and admitted manslaughter but were all found guilty of the more serious charge of Dr Jenkins' murder.

During the sentencing hearing, Judge Daniel Williams said: "Why the three of you formed such a toxic mix is something which may never be known. It seems each of you wanted to show off how little you valued human life. In a grotesque display of savage violence, you took the life of a man who valued life, his and others, very dearly.

"For as long as 28 minutes, you three beat Gary to death. You ignored his desperate pleas to stop. His agonised pleas just prompted homophobic insults. 

“You left him partially clothed as a final indignity”, more proof - the judge said - that it was homophobic attack.

At the sentencing, a statement was read on behalf of Dr Jenkins' wife who described him as a "dedicated and hardworking doctor who was one of the most humane, kind, compassionate doctors one could ever come across".

She added: "He always went the extra mile, advocating for his patients and making sure their needs were met at all times. He is greatly missed by his colleagues and the patients he treated and many tributes have been paid to him in various places that he worked as well as a vigil in Cardiff thanking him for his altruism and contributions to helping others.

"We cannot bring Gary back. There are no winners in this case, only losers but as a family we are relieved that justice is done and that through this harrowing process, we can hope to rediscover our trust in humanity and start to put the pieces of our lives together again and try to find some much-needed peace for us all."

The charity Stonewall Cymru also said at the time that the incident represents the "tip of the iceberg" of homophobia and hate crime faced by the LGBTQ+ community.