Guilty verdict in murder trial
CHEERS erupted from the public gallery at Sheffield Crown Court as a man was found guilty of murdering his landlord in a brutal attack on Christmas Day.
Matthew Winfield, 23, originally denied any involvement in the murder of 58-year-old Alfie Smith at his flat in Wombwell, last Christmas Day.
But on the final day of his trial he dramatically broke down in court and admitted he had "snapped" and attacked Alfie, whose real name is Shane, after he spilled gravy. Mr Smith suffered fractured ribs from kicking and stamping, 25 bruises from being hit with his own walking stick and a bruise on his head.
Quizzed by Jeremy Baker QC, prosecuting, Winfield burst into tears and said he "snapped", punching Mr Smith in the face and stamping on his chest. Winfield said "no-one else was involved" - and said he was "feeling down because he wasn't with his family".
The jury also heard Winfield had been forced to fend for himself as a child after being abandoned by relatives aged 11.
And the defendant's previous convictions - a robbery, for which he received three years in jail, common assault and possessing an offensive weapon - were also revealed in court.
Winfield claims he was provoked by Mr Smith's "annoying traits", such as being messy, falling asleep on the sofa, and spilling the gravy during Christmas dinner which Winfield had cooked.
Despite admitting attacking Mr Smith, he continued to deny having used the walking stick as a weapon. He claimed he "found" the stick in pieces on the floor and threw it in the bin.
But jurors returned a unanimous guilty verdict on the murder charge.
The court heard Winfield, who sat with his head in his hands after the guilty verdict was returned, had become enraged when Mr Smith spilled gravy during the Christmas dinner Winfield had cooked for them. Winfield told police he had moved in with alcoholic Mr Smith after his brother threw him out, and said he looked up to his victim as a father figure. But he also said Mr Smith was messy and he had to clean up after him and sometimes even change his clothes for him.
Mr Smith's family, including his son and sister, cheered in court when the verdict was given. Outside court, niece Ann-Marie Tindle said: "The last five months have been very hard for us as we were a very close family.
"It is a huge relief knowing that it is all over we hoped for this outcome but we didn't know for sure."
In a statement released on behalf of the whole family, she added: "It is a tragedy that Uncle Alfie was taken from us in such a brutal manner but also upsetting that he was murdered on Christmas Day, which means every Christmas will hold bad memories.
"Despite the fact that he was alcohol dependent, he was loved and supported by his family."
Detective Superintendent Neil Jessop, who led the murder investigation, said: " Alfie Smith was murdered in a brutal and repeated attack within a close-knit community."
Winfield will be sentenced next month.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for South Yorkshire
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 5 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 21 mph
Wind direction: North west