Beds, Herts & Bucks

Leigh Clift guilty of Jonathan Barton screwdriver murder

A man has been convicted of murdering a man who died nine years after he was stabbed in the head with a screwdriver in Milton Keynes.

Jonathan Barton was 19 when he was attacked outside the Beacon pub in 2000 and was left unable to move or speak. He died in 2009.

Leigh Clift, 31, of Lincolnshire Close, Bletchley, had denied murder at Luton Crown Court.

He has already served a jail term over the attack, for grievous bodily harm.

Mr Justice Saunders adjourned sentencing until a later date and said a life sentence would be passed.

The jury heard Clift was in the pub at the same time as Mr Barton and appeared to wink at his victim "provocatively" as he left, which started an argument.

Catastrophic brain injury

Once outside, Clift looked in his friend's car boot and was then seen with a screwdriver.

Image caption Jonathan Barton could not move or speak after the assault

A witness saw Mr Barton on the ground and bleeding from his head and Clift ran off, discarding the screwdriver and a top he had been wearing, the court heard.

Mr Barton was found to have two puncture wounds, one of which had passed through from the left to the right side of his brain.

The wound caused a "catastrophic brain injury" which left Mr Barton in a semi-vegetative state.

He was to spend the rest of his life in hospitals, rehabilitation units and at home where his mother had an extension built so her son could be cared for, the court heard.

In July 2009, he suffered a cardio respiratory arrest after a procedure to reinsert his feeding tube and died.

Outside the court, Jonathan's mother Kim Barton, surrounded by her three other sons, Aaron, 25, James, 31 and Anthony, 27, said: "We are so relieved this ordeal is over.

"It's justice for Jonathan, but of course he [Clift] has done his time, there are no winners.

"He [Clift] has a family now, so it's very difficult for us."

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