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'Hardest man in town' battered Northern Ireland soldier to death, murder trial is told

By Claire Hayhurst

Published 17/11/2016

Victim: Matthew Boyd
Victim: Matthew Boyd

A boxer murdered a Co Antrim soldier on a night out hours after boasting that he was the "hardest man" in the town, a court has heard.

Private Matthew Boyd (20), of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, died in the barracks town of Brecon, South Wales, in the early hours of May 8.

Cardiff Crown Court heard the soldier was chased, punched to the ground and beaten before his body was dragged and dumped in the road.

Amateur boxer Jake Vallely (24) accepts punching Pte Boyd, who was originally from Carrickfergus, but denies murder. His friend Aaeron Evans (23) denies manslaughter.

Christopher Quinlan QC, prosecuting, told the jury: "Jake Vallely is the self-proclaimed hardest man in Brecon.

"That was how he described himself an hour or so before the attack that killed Mr Boyd.

"Together with his friend, Aaeron Evans, he chased and then assaulted Mr Boyd. Mr Boyd was punched. He went to the ground and thereafter he was beaten until he moved no more.

"Mr Vallely then dragged and dumped his body and ran off. He ran back to the bar where he continued his night with his friend Mr Evans."

The court heard that, following tours in Northern Ireland, Pte Boyd was sent to Brecon and arrived in the town on May 3 this year. On the evening of May 7 he went out with fellow soldiers but became separated from them at about 11pm.

He arrived at the Cellar Bar, where Vallely and Evans were, at about 12.19am on May 8.

CCTV cameras later captured Vallely's "sustained assault" of Pte Boyd in the street outside the bar, Mr Quinlan said.

"Vallely got the better of Mr Boyd," he told the jury. "He drove him to the ground. Once he was on the ground Mr Boyd was no longer - if he had ever been - a threat to this man.

"Once down he was punched repeatedly. You could see Mr Vallely's right arm moving like a piston up and down as he punched him. There was also movement of his right leg. He completely overpowered that man. He dragged his still motionless body across the road.

"It was sustained, repeated and unlawful violence delivered with intent to cause really serious harm.

"He left him obviously unconscious at the very least. When he jogged back to the Cellar Bar the cameras carried on running. Mr Boyd didn't move a muscle and stayed motionless until a member of the public happened upon him."

Pte Boyd was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2.40am. A pathologist found Pte Boyd died as a result of blunt force injuries. In a text message to a friend after the alleged murder, Vallely is said to have written: "I just ragged him on the floor a bit. Nothing serious. Wasn't even a beating like."

The jury heard that prior to the incident Vallely and Evans, both from Brecon, were in Rorkes Drift bar.

Mr Quinlan said Vallely "erupted and became aggressive" to Kelly Price, a woman sat with his group of friends there.

"He said that he was the 'hardest f****** man in Brecon'.

"He continued to shout loudly at her," he told the jury. "Two doormen intervened and removed him from the establishment."

At hearing.

Belfast Telegraph

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