Two jailed for murdering homeless man with meat cleaver

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Media captionRazvan Sirbu's grandmother has been consumed with grief since his death

Two men have been jailed for murdering a homeless Romanian man with weapons including a meat cleaver.

Razvan Sirbu, 21, died from blunt force trauma to the head and body at the Loose Valley Conservation Area in Tovil, near Maidstone, Kent, last May.

Alex Macdonald, 19, was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 18 years, while Charlie White, 19, will serve a minimum of 16 years.

Both denied murder but were convicted at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday.

Jurors found a third defendant, Jimmy Buckley, 20, who had been deemed unfit to plead, also "did the act of murder".

He will be sentenced at a later date.

Image copyright Kent Police
Image caption Alex Macdonald (left) and Charlie White had denied murder

Mr Sirbu had been living in a tent when he was attacked by White, of no fixed address, Macdonald, of Regency Place, Maidstone, and Buckley, of Capell Close, Coxheath, on the night of 6 May.

They had been in the area because they planned to steal a sit-on lawn mower, but denied they had deliberately set out to rob Mr Sirbu.

During a police interview, White said he was carrying a meat cleaver for protection against the person he was hoping to sell the mower to.

White claimed as he was making his way to the property he heard shouting and that a man speaking a foreign language then tried to attack him.

He admitted repeatedly striking Mr Sirbu with the meat cleaver but denied aiming any blows to his head.

He said he acted in self-defence and had played no part in encouraging others to also attack Mr Sirbu.

'Gratuitous violence'

Mr Sirbu had come to the UK from Romania in search of a better life and had initially lived with his mother in the Gravesend area before becoming homeless.

In a victim impact statement to the court on Friday, Marinella Gafita said the death of her son had left her "crushed to the ground".

"He was the apple of my eye and I would have given my life for him," she said.

His grandmother, who brought him up as a child, told BBC South East he had completed a college diploma in cookery, and had wanted "to achieve something" in the UK.

Det Ch Insp Tony Pledger said the reasons behind the attack remained unclear.

"Razvan Sirbu was set upon and attacked in the most appalling and cowardly way.

"The violence was gratuitous and without any provocation and this murder has robbed a young man of his life and also devastated the lives of his loved ones," he said.

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