Norfolk walking stick choke killers lose appeal

Image caption,
Kathleen Johnson and Paul Slack had both denied the charges against them

A man and a woman who killed a 64-year-old Norfolk man by choking him on his own walking stick have both failed in appeals against their convictions.

Alan Bowles died after being attacked in his flat in Great Yarmouth in 2007.

Paul Slack, 49, was jailed for life for murder, and Kathleen Johnson, 59, sentenced to three years for manslaughter following a trial.

A judge at the Court of Appeal ruled both convictions were safe and that the case against Slack was "strong".

Their lawyers had argued that the trial judge at Norwich Crown Court should have stopped the case at the end of the prosecution evidence as there was not enough evidence to go before a jury.

Hard-drinking group

In the case of Johnson, her lawyers also said that bad character evidence, which prosecutors said indicated a propensity to violence, should have been excluded from court.

Lord Justice Maurice Kay, sitting with Mr Justice Royce and Mr Justice Nicol, pointed to evidence of conversations Slack had with others in which he had "effectively admitted the offence".

Johnson had admitted taking part in an assault on Mr Bowles, a member of their hard-drinking group, but not in the walking stick incident which killed him.

The judge said that bad character evidence in relation to Johnson was "properly admitted in the first place and remained properly before the jury thereafter".

He added that the Court of Appeal did not accept the case against Johnson was a "weak one which would be distorted by the jury hearing details of previous violence".

"By her own admission, she had given the deceased a "good kicking" before Slack had used the walking stick on the deceased," he told the court.

He concluded that the trial judge carefully directed the jurors, whose verdicts should be upheld.

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