Two women in a civil partnership shouted abuse at each other as they were convicted of torturing and killing a pensioner by a jury at Norwich Crown Court, yesterday.
Kelly Louise Barnes, 32, and Jodie Barnes, formerly Ramsbottom, 31, were found guilty of murdering Barry Reeve, 67, at his home in Norwich, on 9 February 2012, believing he had a secret stash of money.
The jury heard that the couple had tortured Mr Reeve whilst trying to get him to reveal his PIN code, before leaving him to die while they ransacked his home.
“Serious, deep incised cuts were made to both cheeks and to his stomach,” said Judge Peter Jacobs.
“A forensic pathologist said the obvious: those cuts were made to get information, probably both his PIN number and any information about what was in the property.”
Both women denied the allegations, each blaming the other for Mr Reeve’s death.
In court the pair were described as “drug addicts”. Jodie Barnes attended the trial with a Bible, and claimed that “God had forgiven” her.
A jury of eight women and four men deliberated for five hours before finding them guilty on Thursday. Both women have been sentenced to life in prison, and will serve at least 24 years.
Judge Jacobs told the women: “The man who you killed was frail, old and vulnerable and lived on his own. His income was limited, he may or may not have had money.
“Both of you have previous convictions for violence and lived chaotic lifestyles.”
He added: “It was a grotesque situation that he was lying there slowly dying and you were going around his property, stepping over and around his body and stealing his property.”
Members of Mr Reeve’s family and the jury wept as the verdict was delivered
Jodie Barnes looked stunned and shouted “I didn’t lie, I swore on the Bible”. She had a whispered conversation with Kelly Barnes before breaking down in tears.
As she was lead away Kelly Barnes became distraught, swearing and shouting abuse at Jodie Barnes, who mouthed “I didn’t do it” at her family.
Mr Reeve, known as Titch because of his small stature, is survived by his grandchildren, his son, and his daughter, Julie Reeve, who said after the trial: “It has broken my heart what they did to my father. They tortured and killed him and then did not have the decency to even plead guilty, to spare us this.”
Prosecutor Karim Khalil QC told the jury Mr Reeve’s body was discovered two weeks after the attack when his daughter called at the blood-spattered property.
A post-mortem examination showed that Mr Reeve was alive for between 15 and 48 hours after suffering brain injuries.
The women returned to the property by taxi to remove the goods they wanted, including food from the freezer, back to their home.
CCTV footage used as evidence in the trial shows them attempting to take money from an ATM using Mr Reeve’s card after the murder.
The Reeve family released the following statement: “As a family we were deeply shocked and distressed by what happened and the consequences for both of us, his son and daughter and his grandchildren.
“Our family could not be happier with the verdict, however, no amount of time these women spend in prison will change what happened and bring back our lovely little dad.
“We would like to express our gratitude to Norfolk Constabulary for all their hard work and support especially our family liaison officer who has been there for us since this ordeal began. We would also like to thank friends, family and Victim Support for their support given, in what has been the worst imaginable year of our lives.
“The whole court process has been a very emotional time, however, we look upon this as closure and now need to concentrate on our grieving and learning to live our lives without Dad whilst trying to come to terms with the awful circumstances in which he was taken from us.”