Beds, Herts & Bucks

Colonel Workman's doorstep killer has appeal rejected

Image caption Lt Col Robert Workman was killed at his Hertfordshire cottage in 2004

The man who murdered a retired colonel on the doorstep of his Hertfordshire home has had his life sentence upheld.

Christopher Docherty-Puncheon, 34, denied shooting Lt Col Robert "Riley" Workman at his Furneux Pelham home in 2004 but was convicted last November.

His barrister, James Wood QC, told the Court of Appeal the conviction was "arguably unsafe" and the 32-year minimum term too long.

But Appeal Court judges found the case "unarguable" and the tariff correct.

Lt Col Workman died when he was killed with a shotgun at the door to his home in January 2004.

The former gamekeeper had initially been a suspect in the colonel's murder but there had been no evidence and he was released without charge.

Following Docherty-Puncheon's conviction in 2006 for the murder of Fred Moss, two cell mates separately revealed he had confessed to murdering the World War II veteran prompting police to review their investigation.

'Inconsistent evidence'

Docherty-Puncheon received a life sentence at St Albans Crown Court and was ordered to serve at least 32 years.

Image caption Docherty-Puncheon is said to have confessed to cell mates

The Court of Appeal was told that the former gamekeeper's guilty verdict was tainted and should be quashed.

Mr Wood asked for permission to appeal against the conviction in a full hearing.

Mr Moss had died because he knew too much about the colonel's murder, he told the court.

He added that the judge in the trial for the colonel's murder did not properly direct the jury on how to consider "inconsistencies" in that evidence.

Sir Brian Leveson, sitting with Mr Justice Royce and Mr Justice Popplewell, said: "In our judgment, the approach of the learned judge to this evidence is beyond proper challenge."

He added that the case was "unarguable".

Mr Wood also argued that Docherty-Puncheon's 32-year minimum sentence was too long because he had already served eight years for the Moss murder and 40 years in total was excessive.

Sir Brian said: "We don't accept that this sentence is either wrong in principle or manifestly excessive and the application for leave to appeal against sentence is also refused."

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