Man guilty of murder after 'brutal attack' in Newton Poppleford

  Posted: 08.10.20 at 16:40 by Hannah Corfield

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A Devon man has today, Thursday 8 October, been found guilty for killing a man in a brutal attack before setting his caravan alight.

Lewis Finch, aged 31 of Briseham Close in Brixham, was found guilty at Exeter Crown Court for the murder of 47-year-old Geoffrey Pearce.

The court heard that on the night of Wednesday 8 January 2020, Finch had purchased drugs before taking a taxi to Mr Pearce’s address where he lived alone in a caravan on a haulage yard in Harpford, Newton Poppleford.

Finch had reportedly stayed there for some time taking drugs with the victim before attacking Mr Pearce and hitting him several times on the head causing a fatal head injury. Mr Pearce was also found to have a ligature tied around his neck.

Before fleeing the scene, Finch set the caravan on fire with Mr Pearce still inside. He then made a call to his half-sister to ask for a lift in the early hours of Thursday 9 January.

The court was told Mr Pearce was heard in the background of this call screaming for help, and Finch tell his sister ‘he’s not dead yet but he’s going to be’.

The sister did not attend and once the call had ended, she alerted the police. Officers attended the haulage yard and identified the caravan well ablaze. Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service also attended to extinguish the fire and the scene was sealed off.

The body of Geoffrey Pearce was later identified within the burnt-out caravan.

After extensive enquiries, Finch was later located at an address in Exmouth and arrested on suspicion of murder on the morning of Thursday 9 January.

A forensic post mortem revealed that the cause of death was likely due to a fatal head injury which suggested that Mr Pearce may have been dead at the time of the fire.

During the trial Finch admitted killing Mr Pearce and leaving him for dead before setting fire to his caravan, but denied murder instead stating partial defences of diminished responsibility and loss of control.

However, Finch was found guilty of murder. He will be next Wednesday (14 October) at Plymouth Crown Court.

Family members who attended the trial have made the following statement: “We are pleased with the outcome and justice has prevailed.

"We would like to thank Prosecution QC Mr Brunton and the investigation team with special thanks to the Family Liaison Officer. We feel this verdict is the right outcome and tis now represents closure for us and it means we can now move on.”

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Robert Back said: “We welcome today’s outcome. This was a brutal attack on Mr Pearce by someone he knew and had allowed into his home.

“I hope this result provides some sense of closure for his family who have conducted themselves throughout the trial with dignity and restraint.

“I would like to thank the jury and highlight the dedication of the team of Major Crime investigators who painstakingly gathered the evidence and the prosecuting team who expertly presented.”

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