iPhone robbers jailed for life for Keith Soon murder

Keith Soons - Gloucestershire Police
Image caption Keith Soons died on 5 February after the attack

Two men have been jailed for life for murdering a 36-year-old Gloucester man who they robbed for his iPhone.

Keith Soons was stabbed in the head with a screwdriver and died on 5 February, Bristol Crown Court was told.

Ricky Smith, 27, of Fairview Road, Gloucester, and Michael Sexton, 28, of Moors Avenue, were told they would serve at least 25 and 28 years.

On Wednesday, jurors took just six hours to unanimously find the pair guilty of the murder.

Smith was also found guilty of robbery while Sexton had admitted that offence at a previous hearing.

During the trial, the court heard Mr Soons died from the single stab wound to his head, which had penetrated more than 10cm.

He had chased after Sexton and Smith after they stole his phone.

The pair admitted to being at the scene of the attack on Wellington Lane but blamed each other for delivering the fatal blow.

Mr Soons was found by a passer-by five hours after the attack but later died in hospital having not regained consciousness.

Mr Justice Silber, sentencing the pair, said he had concluded Smith was holding the screwdriver used to kill Mr Soons.

"You were hoping that you had achieved your aim of stopping him chasing you," he said.

"It is clear that only one blow was inflicted in the alley and it was not aimed at a vulnerable area of the body, namely the heart."

Mr Soons, who grew up in nearby Cirencester, lived with his partner and baby daughter.

Det Supt Simon Atkinson said: "A family have been robbed of a son and brother, a girlfriend has been left without her partner and most tragically a baby girl has been left to grow up never knowing her dad.

"This tragic incident is incredibly rare and has shocked not only the local community but all those who have heard about it.

"All Keith wanted to do was retrieve his mobile phone, tragically he paid the ultimate price."

'Severity of crimes'

Rachael Scott, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "These men brought to an end the life of a man who was merely trying to retrieve the mobile phone they had stolen from him.

"The sentences they received today reflects the severity of their crimes and shows that the Criminal Justice System takes crimes of this nature very seriously."

Ms Scott also revealed that Ricky Smith's sister, Sadie Jade Smith, 20, and Charlie Flook, 18, both of Cheltenham, have been charged over posting threatening messages to witnesses on Facebook in relation to the case.

The pair were remanded in custody at Cheltenham Magistrates' Court and will appear again on 18 January.

Smith's girlfriend, Carolanne Williams, who gave a false alibi to police, has already pleaded guilty to perverting the court of justice and will be sentenced at a later date.

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