Norwich killer’s bid to have sentence shortened has been rejected

Barry Reeve murder. Pictured: Jodie Barnes Barry Reeve murder. Pictured: Jodie Barnes

Peter Walsh peter.walsh@archant.co.uk
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
9:58 AM

A woman who – along with her partner – brutally attacked and tortured a retired bus conductor and left him to die in his Norwich home has had a challenge over the length of her sentence rejected.

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Norfolk Police undated handout photo of retired bus conductor Barry Reeve. Photo credit should read: Norfolk Police/PA Wire.Norfolk Police undated handout photo of retired bus conductor Barry Reeve. Photo credit should read: Norfolk Police/PA Wire.

Jodie Barnes, nee Ramsbottom, and her civil partner, Kelly Barnes, believed 67-year-old Barry Reeve had money and tortured him at his home in Corton Road, Norwich in an attempt to force him to reveal his PIN.

The pair were jailed for life at Norwich Crown Court in January last year and ordered to serve at least 24 years behind bars after being found guilty of the murder of Mr Reeve, whose body was discovered on February 26, 2012.

Jodie Barnes, 33, of Bixley Close, Norwich, challenged her minimum term at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, with her lawyers arguing it was “too long”.

But her appeal was dismissed by three of the country’s most senior judges, who said the tariff was not excessive for her crime.

Corton Road, Norwich - where Barry Reeve lived.Corton Road, Norwich - where Barry Reeve lived.

On appeal, Barnes’s lawyers argued her minimum term was far too long and that she was prey to drug and alcohol problems at the time.

But Lady Justice Rafferty, sitting with Mrs Justice Simler and Judge Charles Wide QC, threw out her complaints.

She told the court: “Even if we were to treat the unlawful use of drugs and alcohol as a mitigating factor, the aggravating features that were present in this case undoubtedly justified a minimum term of 24 years.”

The court heard Mr Reeve’s body was found after his daughter called the emergency services when she found his door unlocked, saw blood on an internal door and got no answer from him.

He had been left dying in his Corton Road home following a vicious attack on February 9, 2012, by the couple – who were both drug addicts and had previous convictions for violence.

The pair punched and stamped on Mr Reeve, and his face and torso were scored with a sharp blade, in a bid to force him to reveal his PIN.

They later returned to his house after the attack and stripped it of anything of value, including food from the freezer.

Both denied murder, blaming the other for the killing, but they were both found guilty by the jury.

Jailing them, Judge Peter Jacobs said: “Let’s get this message over.”

He told the women: “The man who you killed was frail, old and vulnerable and lived on his own.

“As a result of the attack, Mr Reeve was kicked, stamped upon and punched, then put to the ground in a semi-comatose state but he was sufficiently conscious to be able to give you information.

“Some form of kitchen knife was used to cut this man. Serious, deep incised cuts were made to both cheeks and to his stomach.

“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.

“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.”

Judge Jacobs said the pair were “totally indifferent” as to whether he lived or died.

Speaking after the pair were found guilty in January last year, Mr Reeve’s daughter, Julie, said: “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.”

A family statement described Mr Reeve as “a private, quiet man who was friendly and welcoming to everyone he knew”.

Have you got a crime story? Call crime reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk.

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