In the Media

Two jailed after man stabbed to death with screwdriver for his iPhone

PUBLISHED December 22, 2011

Father of one, Keith Soons, stabbed in the head with tool after chasing pair who took his phone

Two street robbers who murdered a father of one for his iPhone have been jailed for life.

Richard Smith, 27, and Michael Sexton, 28, were told they would serve at least 28 and 25 years respectively for killing Keith Soons.

Soons, 36, was stabbed in the head with a screwdriver after going to "remonstrate" with the two men who had taken his phone.

On Wednesday jurors at Bristol crown court took just six hours to unanimously find Sexton and Smith guilty of murder.

They also convicted Smith of the robbery of Soons, a charge Sexton had already admitted.

Soons, father of a baby daughter, died from the single stab wound to his head, which had penetrated more than 10cm.

He had chased Sexton and Smith, who targeted him as he stood outside a friend's house in Cheltenham at 3am on 5 February, the court was told.

Sexton and Smith, who both have previous convictions, both admitted being at the scene of the attack in Wellington Lane but blamed each other for delivering the fatal blow.

Sexton told police that after the attack, Smith said to him: "I've always wanted to know what it was like to kill someone."

A passerby found Soons lying unconscious in the street five hours afterwards. He died in hospital later the same day having never regained consciousness.

His wallet and ring, engraved "dad", which were stolen by Sexton and Smith, were later recovered but his iPhone has never been found.

During the two-week trial, prosecutors did not say which of the two defendants stabbed Soons with the screwdriver.

William Mousley QC said: "He lost his life over a mobile phone.

"Each accepts that he was there, each blames the other and denies having any part in the killing of Mr Soons. In fact, the prosecution say that both are culpable.

"They had both robbed him, they had both been acting together before and during and they continued to act together after the attack."

The defendants knew each other from the "cruising" scene around Cheltenham.

Smith, known to his friends as Ricky, was a self-confessed "professional" car thief and Sexton ? nicknamed Puppet ? had previously been jailed for attacking a love rival with a knife.

A pathologist found that the stab wound was so deep it was likely to have penetrated Soons's head right up to the screwdriver handle.

In the days after the murder Sexton confessed to his girlfriend that he and another man had robbed someone of their mobile phone.

Smith's girlfriend, Carolanne Williams, made a statement to the police giving him an alibi for the night Soons was attacked, saying he was with her the whole time.

Williams has pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice. She awaits sentence.

Sexton, of Moors Avenue, Cheltenham, denied murder but admitted one charge of robbery. Smith, of Fairview Road, of Cheltenham, denied murder and robbery.

Giving evidence, Sexton blamed his accomplice and said Smith had later boasted of "wanting to kill someone and try and get away with murder".

Meanwhile, Smith maintained he had only punched Soons in the face and said Sexton had delivered the fatal blow.

However, he stormed from the witness box while under cross-examination after telling Sexton's barrister to "piss off".

Sexton and Smith stood expressionless in the dock as Mr Justice Silber passed mandatory life sentences.

"I have concluded that only one of you had a screwdriver and that was you Richard Smith," the judge said.

"While walking through Cheltenham you saw Keith Soons as he was lying on the doorstep waiting for his friend.

"You Michael Sexton went up to Mr Soons to see if he was OK. You then went back to Richard Smith and said: 'Should we rob him?'

"This set off a chain of events that led to Mr Soons's death just over a minute later.

"This was spontaneous and not a planned murder and I accept there was no intention for Mr Soons to be killed and it was to prevent him following you."

The judge told Smith: "You were disappointed with what you had taken and it was decided you would go back and get more items.

"You went back and stole Mr Soons's mobile phone. You tried to stab him."

The judge said that after Soons gave chase, both defendants hoped they could shake him off by running away.

"He was saying that all he wanted was his phone because it had pictures of his wife and children on it," the judge said.

"At this point, you, Richard Smith, told you, Michael Sexton, that you should hit him and you complied with that order.

"You were hoping that you had achieved your aim of stopping him chasing you. You, Michael Sexton, ran away.

"You, Richard Smith, had the screwdriver and you inflicted the fatal blow on Mr Soons.

"It is clear that only one blow was inflicted in the alley and it was not aimed at a vulnerable area of the body, namely the heart."

The judge told Sexton: "You didn't strike the fatal blow but it is not mitigated by the fact that you started the chain of events that led to Mr Soons's death.

"You suggested to Richard Smith outside that house that you should rob Mr Soons.

"In other words you started this course of action and it seems to me that if you had not done this Mr Soons would not have been killed." © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds