Lavern Ritch killer Robert Davies jailed for 21 years

  • Published

A man who killed a Welsh tourist who was on holiday in America has been jailed for 21-and-a half years.

Fitness instructor Lavern Ritch, 37, of Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, was fatally stabbed by Robert Davies in Margate, New Jersey, in 2007.

Davies was cleared of murder in February, but convicted of reckless manslaughter, after claiming he had acted in self-defence.

Mr Ritch's father Louis said he was satisfied with the sentence.

"I know it won't bring him back. [But] for his mother's sake and the rest of the children's sake, it will come to an end now," he told BBC Wales from his home in Cardiff.

"They must know what type of person he was to give him such a long time."

At the sentencing, Davies apologised to Mr Ritch's family.

In a victim impact statement to the court, Mr Ritch's brother said the family was in constant pain as result of the killing, and wanted the longest possible sentence for Davies.

Anthony Ritch said Davies should "willingly" go to jail for the rest of his life "to atone".

Prosecutors called for the recommended jail term to be doubled from 10 to 20 years.

Image caption,
Lavern Ritch was stabbed to death by Robert Davies, who he had been trying to help

William Merz, prosecuting, said Davies was "dangerous with a capital D".

The trial heard that he stabbed Mr Ritch through the heart in the summer resort town where Mr Ritch was visiting with friends from Atlantic City.

Mr Ritch, who was once a contestant on the British version of the Gladiators TV show, had been trying to help Davies, the court heard.

The personal fitness instructor and swimming coach at a Cardiff sports centre joined in a chase through the streets.

The chase began after Davies had been punched in the face moments earlier and left bleeding after insulting a Mexican man.

'Got off'

Davies had claimed he had acted in self-defence, wrongly believing his victim was a member of the group chasing him.

Mr Ritch's family said the verdict of the February trial when Davies was acquitted of murder and aggravated manslaughter had left them feeling Davies had "got off".

In addition to being found guilty of reckless manslaughter, Davies was also found guilty of weapons offences.