Former soldier jailed for life over ferocious murder of pensioner

Neil Brand, convicted of murder of Trevor Leighton, 78.
Neil Brand, convicted of murder of Trevor Leighton, 78.

A former soldier has been found guilty of the ‘sustained and ferocious murder’ of a pensioner at a hotel three years ago.

Neil Brand, 27, was yesterday jailed for life for killing caretaker Trevor Leighton.

Trevor Leighton

Trevor Leighton

Mr Leighton 78, died seven months after being attacked in the doorway of the Southmoor Hotel, Hemsworth in August 2011.

The victim spent the last days of his life at Earls Lodge Care Home in Wakefield. He had suffered a traumatic brain injury and facial fractures after being punched and stamped on.

Leeds Crown Court heard how Brand was previously prosecuted for GBH over the attack and had been sentenced for eight years.

But prosecutor Simon Waley said: “Mr Leighton never gained or regained full awareness after this attack. He did remain alive with medical support for a period of approximately seven months. Over that time he was fed through a tube. He was unable to move in any meaningful way.”

The court heard his condition left him vulnerable to pneumonia, which ultimately led to his death.

But Mr Waley said there was no dispute that Brand’s attack was, at the very least, a substantial cause of Mr Leighton’s death. The case was reopened after Mr Leighton died in March 2012 and Brand was charged with murder.

Brand denied murder but claimed manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. It was claimed Brand was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at the time of the offence and wasn’t able to exercise self-control.

The court heard: “He remembers punching the door of the hotel in anger and smashing the door down. He remembers kicking and stamping on a man who was inside the door and, he said, he did not know. He said there was no justification.”

It was claimed he had PTSD but a jury rejected his argument and he was jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years and 177 days.

Sentencing Judge Jonathan Durham Hall said: “I don’t forget the sustained and ferocious nature of the actual attack.”