Murderer’s sister heard his victim’s harrowing cry for help over the phone

A murderer who told his sister over the phone that he was about to kill someone has been jailed for 22 years.

Lewis Finch, 31, called his sister, Ronnie at 2.15am in the morning saying he had "killed him".

Scared about what her brother had done, Ronnie rang him back and heard his victim Geoffery Pearce, 47, screaming for help in the background.

Prosecutor Sean Brunton QC told Exeter Crown Court: "Chillingly in that second call in the background she could hear the other man's voice, the voice of Geoffrey Pearce screaming 'help me, help me'."

She said her brother hung up after telling her: "He is not dead yet…but he is going to be."

Failing to get through to her brother again, Ronnie reported the haunting phone call to the police.

Lewis, of Exmouth, Devon, denied murdering Mr Pearce at his caravan home in the village of Newton Poppleford, claiming his death was the result of manslaughter.

The jury heard that Finch battered Mr Pearce over his head three times with a claw hammer or pick axe before wrapping a
plastic tie around his neck to choke and suffocate him.

Finch attempted to cover his tracks by setting fire to the caravan which 'incinerated the body'.

Mr Brunton said: "He made sure of two things, that Geoffrey Pearce was well and truly dead and the best ay of covering your tracks is to set fire to the scene of the crime."

He then walked eight miles back to a friend's house in Exmouth, Devon, where he told some of them what he had done.

Finch told pal Blake Longbottom that he had killed Mr Pearce who he had seen earlier that day and warned him not to talk to him or he would kill him.

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"Geoffrey Pearce did not heed this and tried to approach him anyway,"

Finch confessed that he had gone to his caravan in the scrapyard at Newton Poppleford and struck him with a pick axe and then strangled him with a tie until his face turned blue.

Mr Longbottom said Finch was 'calm as a whistle' as he told him what he had done.

Mr Brunton said: "Lewis Finch said he had done it because Geoffrey Pearce was a nonce, that he deliberately killed him because he knew, or claimed, or believed Geoffrey Pearce was some sort of child abuser."

Mr Brunton told the jury that the victim was an eccentric who lived a hand to mouth pretty grubby existence and was a 'bit of a loner' but he knew Finch well because the defendant had visited him many times as a child.

A post mortem concluded that the victim had been struck on the head causing fractures to the skull and eye socket, and before he died, he was garotted with a thick piece of plastic cable tie which was so tight it fractured the cartilage in his neck.

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