Teenage murderer deserves 'hell' says victim's fiancée

PUBLISHED: 10:59 12 August 2014 | UPDATED: 10:59 12 August 2014

Zara Powell and Mark Roberts.

Zara Powell and Mark Roberts.

Archant

THE killer of a much-loved Weston man should be 'left in hell and forgotten about' for his 'vile' crime, says his victim's fiancée.

Zara Powell and Mark RobertsZara Powell and Mark Roberts

It has been nearly 10 months since Ryan Sheppard killed Mark Roberts in an ‘unprovoked, sustained and brutal’ attack on Weston’s Bournville estate.

On Monday, 18-year-old Sheppard was jailed for a minimum of 12 years and three months.

Mr Roberts’ fiancée Zara Powell, who he had been due to marry this year, has spoken exclusively to the Mercury, describing how she felt suicidal after his death and criticising Sheppard for an apparent lack of remorse.

The mother-of-two said he had made no effort to apologise to her or Mr Roberts’ family, but added the 12-year sentence was more than the 10 she had been told to expect.

Ryan Sheppard will serve a minimum of 12 years and three months. Photo by Avon and Somerset Constabulary.Ryan Sheppard will serve a minimum of 12 years and three months. Photo by Avon and Somerset Constabulary.

She said: “At the time, 10 years sounded ridiculous, but we had months to digest it.

“What he got was a bonus because we thought it would be less. Ideally we wanted it to be more and it will still never be enough.”

Mr Roberts was killed just a few hundred metres from the home he shared with Zara, aged 28, on October 12 last year.

Sheppard, of Sunnyside Road, was drunk and may have used cocaine before he asked Mr Roberts for a cigarette or to go to the pub before punching the 35-year-old to the ground.

He then kicked and stamped on him in an attack filmed by a 15-year-old girl on her mobile phone.

Bristol Crown Court heard how he was ‘proud’ of what he had done and re-enacted it in the park as well as showing the footage to others.

Mitigating for Sheppard, his lawyer Richard Smith said he had shown ‘courage’ to plead guilty rather than put the family through a trial.

He described him as a ‘coward’ and ‘immature’ at the time of the murder but said he had shown remorse since it happened - a suggestion disputed by Zara.

She said: “I don’t think he felt bad because of what he had done. He feels bad for being locked up. But I don’t believe for a minute he has any sense of remorse at all.

“He is the face of evil. What he did was absolutely vile. Mark did nothing wrong and he attacked him brutally for no reason.”

“There is nothing I would want to say to him. He is not worth anyone’s breath, better left in that hell and forgotten about.”

Sentencing Sheppard this week, Judge Neil Ford QC said: “The attack has been described as cowardly, which it undoubtedly was. It was also unprovoked, sustained and brutal.

“Mr Roberts was vulnerable because of a degree of intoxication. You yourself were intoxicated by drink and/or drugs.

“Your position is aggravated by your pride in what you had done and the showing of the footage.”

Mr Roberts’ parents Lesley and Andrew Roberts, who live in Uphill, paid tribute to their son in the wake of his death, saying he had found the woman he would spend the rest of his life with in Zara but had been robbed of the chance to become a stepfather and father.

Zara attended court every time Sheppard was there and said his sentencing would not bring about any closure.

She said: “It was the final thing and the end of it and I had to be there and look at him. But he didn’t look.

“It’s still numb and surreal. Reality hasn’t kicked in as such. But there are no more court cases now. It’s nice to know justice has been done.

“It will never bring Mark back. All of us as a family have to try to get on with things with the main person in our lives missing.

“No amount of time can change that or bring him back or even make it easier.

“The turn-out for Mark’s funeral was unbelievable. They should have been turning out for our wedding.

“He will never be forgotten. He was a big part of everyone’s life. He was loved by everybody. He will live on and always will.

“I’m really glad he was in my life and I was with him and spent the last days with him. He made me extremely happy.”

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