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Handyman Hearsey caged for murdering customer over 'unpaid' £40 bill

By Flora Thompson, PA

Police yesterday said it was "tragically unfortunate" they did not catch a handyman who threatened a customer over a £40 bill before he returned to beat him to death.

Alan Creasey dialled 999 after Duncan Hearsey turned up at his house in Lancing, West Sussex, demanding the money for a gardening job he claimed to have carried out.

Officers visited the 52-year-old after the call on May 29 and told him told him to lock his doors.

Within the hour, Hearsey had returned to repeatedly stamp on Mr Creasey's head, leaving him lying face down outside his patio doors. He died the next morning in hospital. Hearsey was sentenced to a minimum of 21 years in prison for murder at Lewes Crown Court yesterday.

The 44-year-old, of Emerald Quay, Shoreham, claimed he was acting in self defence but was found guilty of murder by a majority verdict of 10-2.

The court heard on the day of the attack, police were called to disturbances at a kebab shop and two pubs where a man matching Hearsey's description had been drunk and disorderly.

While en route, officers were diverted to a man who had a cardiac arrest at a railway station.

Meanwhile, Mr Creasey phoned the police to say he had been threatened by a man resembling Hearsey, so another team of officers was dispatched to his bungalow.

He said his arm had already been hurt in an altercation, and officers told him to lock his doors.

The second team then responded to the pub and kebab shops and looked for Hearsey.

When they returned to check on Mr Creasey and take his statement an hour later, he was lying face down on the floor with his patio doors wide open.

The court heard CCTV showed Hearsey returning home after the attack, hanging a pair of blood-stained jeans on a tree and shadow boxing in the street.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission told the force to investigate the circumstances itself.

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