A man has been jailed for life for bludgeoning to death a ”shy and friendly” recluse model car collector – for £20 and his mobile phone.
Evil Andrew Mealing, 26, befriended 62-year-old loner John Hughes when he moved into his block of flats in April last year.
But two days later he carried out a senseless and ”ferocious” attack with a claw hammer after he refused to hand over £20.
Mealing also stole a mobile phone from the flat of Mr Hughes, who neighbours described as a quiet man with new friends or family.
He initially denied the attack but on Wednesday at Bristol Crown Court, was sentenced to life with a minimum of 22 years for murder.
Sentencing, Judge Neil Ford QC said: ”You subjected an elderly and frail man to a brutal and merciless attack that went far beyond what would be expected from a robbery.”
The two week trial heard that Mr Hughes moved into Cadogan House, in St Margaret’s Terrace, Weston-super-Mare, in April last year.
Mealing offered to show him how to use the electronic key pad to the building and befriended Mr Hughes, who police described as a ”lonely, unassuming middle- aged man.”
But just two days later he visited Mr Hughes before demanding £20, and when he refused battered him to death by hitting him nine times in the head and neck with a claw hammer.
Ignatius Hughes QC, prosecuting, said: ”It was a sustained and deliberate attack. John Hughes was struck repeatedly to his head and face with the hammer.”
After the attack Mealing dumped the murder weapon in a wheelie bin and fled to Bristol, but he was caught out after he was found in possession of Mr Hughes’ phone.
He was given life with a minimum 22 years for murder and eight years for robbery, to run concurrent.
DCI Phil Jones, of Avon and Somerset police, said: ”This was a callous and brutal attack on a lonely, unassuming middle- aged man.
”John Hughes was repeatedly hit by Andrew Mealing with a claw hammer and suffered horrific head and neck injuries – and all for a small amount of money and a mobile phone.
”This was the unfortunate case of a lonely and private individual being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
After his death Mr Hughes’ landlord Paul Routledge described him as ”a shy, reserved man and a lonely old fellow.”
Mr Routledge said: ”He lived alone, I don’t think he had any children. He was just a harmless old man who collected model cars.”
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