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Man whose mother was murdered by his father gets life term for killing woman, 82

Published 06/10/2015

Alexander Kerry will receive a life term with the judge to make a ruling on the minimum time served
Alexander Kerry will receive a life term with the judge to make a ruling on the minimum time served

A man whose father strangled his mother to death when he was a child has been ordered to serve at least 25 and a half years of a life sentence for battering a pensioner to death in a "gruesome" attack.

Alexander Kerry, 23, of Kinghorn Road, Norwich, appeared at Ipswich Crown Court for sentencing after pleading guilty to murdering 82-year-old Pauline King.

Prosecutor Andrew Jackson said the killer, desperate for money, had broken into the dilapidated home of the "reclusive spinster" in February this year and beat her to death with two hammers.

The court heard he had been left deeply damaged after his father murdered his mother as he and his brother slept at their home in 2002.

Jailing him, Mr Justice Stuart-Smith said he acted with "animal brutality" to murder Miss King and sexually abuse her dying body in an "act of desecration".

He added: " This wasn't your first experience of violent death because when you were 10 years old your father murdered your mother while you slept in the house.

"Although it was thought at the time you coped well with that tragedy it is quite clear that it remained with you and affected you ever since.

"But nothing begins to explain what you did to Pauline King on that night. She must have suffered terribly.

"She was a poor, elderly, defenceless and no doubt terrified lady who had done nothing except have the misfortune to be burgled by you."

His father Scott Kerry, then 35, was found guilty of murder and jailed for life in December 2002 after a jury heard he strangled his wife Heather Kerry, 33, to death in May that year.

The trial heard a fight had started at the family's home in Toftwood, Norfolk, because he believed she was having an affair with a policeman.

Describing the impact of the killing on the couple's two sons, Mr Jackson said: "This must have had a profound effect on both of them."

He said Alexander Kerry had a criminal record including violence and disorderly behaviour dating back to his teens.

The court heard Miss King lived alone and her house in The Avenues, Norwich, was an easy target for burglars.

She confronted Alexander Kerry, who had recently been released from a psychiatric unit, as he broke in through a rear window in the early hours of February 22.

"Using two hammers he found in the kitchen he launched a brutal and sustained attack," Mr Jackson said.

Afterwards he dragged her through the house and carried on the attack with a kitchen knife.

When police arrived they found blood smeared across the downstairs and her body curled up in a fireplace.

Forensic examinations found Miss King suffered 80 separate injuries, including 27 to her head and face.

Mr Jackson said there was forensic evidence Miss King had been sexually assaulted. Alexander Kerry denied the sexual assault and this charge was left to life on file.

The night before the murder he had had drunk large amounts of beer and whisky, eventually running out of money and leaving the city's Plough pub with "an urgent need to steal".

After killing Miss King, he ransacked the house before making off with low-value items such as decorative teaspoons, playing card and a jewellery box.

He then tried to set fire to the house to destroy the evidence, Mr Jackson said.

Later that day he phoned his brother and said: "I'm in trouble and I'm covered in blood."

He then returned to the area where residents, alarmed at his blood-splatted appearance and erratic drunken behaviour, called the police.

Officer searched him and found an envelope with Miss King's address on it. They went to her home and discovered the body.

Jonathan Goodman, mitigating, said his client had "self-medicated" through alcohol and drugs following the almost "unimaginable" events of his childhood.

He had been provisionally diagnosed with an acute psychotic episode after setting fire to a van in Cornwall in January but was discharged into the community.

"He struggled to come to terms over a considerable period with the changes in the dynamics of his family which have haunted them," Mr Goodman said.

He thought the house was abandoned and did not expect anybody would be inside, he added.

Speaking outside court, investigating officer Detective Superintendent Paul Durham said: "Kerry carried out a prolonged and ferocious attack on a frail, vulnerable and elderly woman in her own home where she lived alone and which should have been her sanctuary.

"We know Kerry broke into the house with the intention of stealing, but we don't know - and may never know - why it escalated.

"One thing is for certain and that is that Pauline King, who lived a reclusive life, did not deserve to meet her end in this appalling way.

"Kerry is a danger to the public and will now be behind bars, where he belongs, for a very long time."

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