‘Needless’ attack over �20 bike kills housemate

A WESTON man murdered his housemate after a row over a �20 bike in a ‘needless’ attack.

Martin Hill, aged 37, killed Paul Birch by stamping on his head so hard it ‘bounced’, Bristol Crown Court was told. He will serve a minimum of 14 years in prison after being found guilty by jurors on Friday.

An argument broke out after Mr Birch demanded the �20 he paid for Hill’s bike to be returned after it was taken from him.

Michael Fitton, prosecuting, said Hill initially told the police that Birch had fallen and hit his head on a shelf, but later admitted to other housemates he was responsible.

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Crisp said: “Excessive violence was used and as a result a man needlessly lost his life.

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“This sentence should send out a warning to young people that violent behaviour will not be tolerated.”

Last week Mr Fitton told the jury, who took less than a day deliberating a verdict, that Mr Birch had been left unconscious by ‘a beating and a kicking’.

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Paramedics were called on three separate occasions to see Mr Birch before he agreed to go to hospital following the fight at their Alfred Street bedsit on May 31.

Initial scans on June 1 revealed a blood clot and he was transferred from Weston General Hospital to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol for surgery.

Surgeon Andrew Bacon said Mr Birch appeared dazed before the procedure and feared what effect his head injuries would have if action was not taken quickly.

He said: “He was conscious but confused. He wasn’t too co-operative.

“At the end of the operation I was completely satisfied that the pressure had been taken off the brain and the operation had achieved everything I had intended it to.”

Mr Bacon said 26-year-old Mr Birch’s pre-existing liver condition, partly caused by an alcohol addiction, meant his blood would not clot as quickly. He said it affected both clotting after the attack and surgery.

Seth Love, a neurosurgical consultant, said in his opinion Mr Birch has suffered ‘traumatic head injuries’ in the hours leading up to his death on June 3.

Hill’s sentence starts immediately following Friday’s verdict.

Pictured right: Martin Hill.

Below: The Alfred Street scene.

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