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July 30, 2004

Life for sweet-shop killer

From: ic Wales, UK - Jul 30, 2004

Robin Turner, The Western Mail

A TEENAGER who communicates through sign language was given a life sentence yesterday for the murder of a pensioner battered to death in her front parlour sweet shop.

But 17-year-old Dwayne Evans of Clyne, near Resolven, Neath, who is profoundly deaf, was told he could apply for early release after serving only eight years.

Delcie Winstone, 76, was found dead by a neighbour within minutes of the attack at her end-of-terrace home in Bryn Terrace, Neath, where she had lived all her life.

The same neighbour had confronted the drunken teenager moments before and stopped him trying to escape in the pensioner's car, forcing him to flee on foot.

Evans had denied murdering and robbing Mrs Winstone, who was a cousin of the late boxing champion Howard Winstone, on February 14 this year, but admitted alternative charges of manslaughter and theft.

But a jury at Swansea Crown Court yesterday took three hours to find him guilty of the charges he had denied.

An order banning the identification of Evans, who has a string of previous convictions for violence, was later lifted by the judge.

Evans gave evidence using sign language, with a team of interpreters translating proceedings.

Judge Mr Justice Pitchford

also sentenced Evans to two-and-a-half years detention for the robbery, the sentences to run concurrently.

The judge told Evans, "These convictions for murder and robbery represent a very serious escalation in your short criminal career.

"You have already shown yourself to be a violent and unpredictable young man.

"This time your violent behaviour resulted in the death of Delcie Winstone in her own home - an offence which must continue to cause her relatives, her neighbours and friends shock and dismay."

The judge said Evans was a dangerous young man.

After the guilty verdicts it was revealed that Evans's previous convictions include a street robbery of a woman, an assault on a police officer and an assault of a schoolboy.

Evans also has previous convictions for attacking a woman who refused to let him borrow her van and criminal damage.

Ian Murphy QC, defending, said Evans had been "frustrated" and from the age of 15 had started committing serious offences and had begun to drink heavily.

He said Evans would be rather an "isolated character" in prison and could only communicate with those who could sign.

"His time in prison is going to be not an easy one at all," he said.

Robin Spencer QC, prosecuting, had told the jury how Mrs Winstone's front room was in effect the local tuck shop for children living nearby.

"She was, in any view, a real character, and someone who would not meekly stand by while she was robbed in her own home," he said.

He had described Mrs Winstone as a "feisty character".

Evans had claimed in evidence that Mrs Winstone, whom he had known since he was a child, caught him stealing, slapped him and started shouting.

"I kind of exploded," he told the jury.

He admitted hitting Mrs Winstone and stamping on her and described how he "kind of woke up" and could see the pensioner was bleeding.

He said he knelt down next to her crying and asking her if she was OK.

He then stole the petty cash Mrs Winstone kept in the front room in ice-cream tubs - about 30 - and 100 from her wallet.

Evans had been with his uncle to a local social club on the day of the incident to watch Wales playing Scotland in an international rugby match and had drunk six cans of beer and three shots of vodka.

Swansea Crown Court heard yesterday that from the age of 15 Evans was a changed person.

After coming to terms with his disability as a child he struggled to cope as he grew older and his frustration welled up with a string of violent offences.

He had been struck deaf as a baby after contracting meningitis.

Mrs Winstone's nephew David Winstone, 23, said, "The police told us she suffered a terrible beating."

Copyright Trinity Mirror Plc 2004