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July 29, 2004

Youth, 17, Gets Life for Pensioner's Murder

From: The Scotsman, UK - Jul 29, 2004

By Vicky Shaw, PA News

A teenager received a life sentence today for murdering a pensioner who caught him stealing petty cash kept in the front room of her home which she used as a sweet shop.

Delcie Winstone, 76, was found dead by a neighbour within minutes of the attack at her end-of-terrace home in Bryn Terrace, Neath, South Wales, 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.

Dwayne Evans, 17, had denied murdering and robbing Mrs Winstone at her home on February 14 this year, but admitted alternative charges of manslaughter and theft.

But he was found guilty of the charges he had denied by a jury at Swansea Crown Court earlier today.

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

Evans, of Melincourt, Neath, who is deaf, gave evidence using sign language, with a team of interpreters translating proceedings.

Judge Mr Justice Pitchford recommended Evans serve a minimum term of eight years for the murder conviction.

Evans was sentenced to two-and-a-half years detention for the robbery, 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 Evans, said he 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.

Opening the case, 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 had previously said.

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

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

"I kind of exploded," he had 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.

The teenager 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.