A KILLER who battered his next-door neighbour to death with a bottle will spend at least 15 years behind bars for the ‘violent and unnecessary’ murder.
Justin Fishlock, aged 21, bludgeoned 39-year-old David Wilkes over the head in his first-floor flat on Fortway Road, Brinsworth, Rotherham, before dragging his bleeding body onto the landing between their two homes.
Fishlock was found by police asleep and covered in blood on his neighbour’s sofa the next morning, telling officers the pair ‘had a bit of a disagreement’.
Mr Wilkes suffered brain damage and broken bones and was pronounced dead at the scene after his body was discovered by a neighbour.
A jury of eight men and four women took just under three-and-a-half hours to convict Fishlock of murder by unanimous verdict.
Fishlock had admitted manslaughter on the grounds of ‘loss of control’.
The murderer claimed he launched the violent attack after Mr Wilkes, an alcoholic, sexually assaulted him.
Jailing Fishlock for life with a minimum term of 15 years, Judge Michael Murphy QC told Sheffield Crown Court the killer was a ‘dangerous young man’.
“A man’s life was brought to an end wholly unnecessarily and violently,” he said.
“David Wilkes may well have been a man who had more than his fair share of problems, and he may have been a weak man in many ways, but he didn’t deserve in any way the dreadful assault you inflicted upon him that night.
“It’s quite obvious that he was in no position to fight back or to defend himself. He would probably have been very, very drunk.”
Judge Murphy added: “I accept that your actions may well have been fuelled by alcohol, but that’s no excuse.
“You bludgeoned him about the head and face with a bottle and caused him such terrible injuries that even police officers who knew him were unable to recognise his face.
“That such depths of violence are within you suggests to me that you are a dangerous young man. A great deal of work needs to be done with you.”
In a statement, David’s sister Carole Hobson said the family were ‘extremely pleased’ with the verdict.
“We’re delighted they have seen straight through the lies perpetuated by Justin Fishlock during his trial and convicted him for what he is - a cold-hearted killer.
“We hope he spends a very long time in prison and is never allowed out to harm anyone ever again,” she said.
Fishlock had previous convictions for threatening behaviour, assaulting a constable, burglary and common assault, the court heard.
Judge Murphy was also handed statements from Mr Wilkes’s family, and said they gave ‘the other side’ of the victim’s character.
“There was a very good side to him,” he added.
Alan Kent QC, defending, said the attack was unplanned and a ‘spontaneous eruption of extreme violence fuelled by drink’.
“He would not have acted in this way had he been sober. Something must have happened to cause him to explode with violence. He will use his time inside productively.” Mr Kent added: “No-one will truly know what happened inside the flat that night.”