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Life sentence for recluse after murder of lover, 72

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: May 01, 2013

By Toby Meyjes

  • Alexander Channer pleaded guilty to the murder of Colin Payne, right, with a rolling pin and pillows

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An obese man who hated going out during the day because of abuse over his weight, murdered his lover after being asked to buy some sherry from a supermarket.

Alexander Channer, 54, was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum of 15 years, at Plymouth Crown Court on Monday for the murder of retired postmaster Colin Payne, 72, from Helston in Cornwall, last June.

Channer had hit the postmaster twice over the head with a rolling pin before binding his legs and hands and smothering him with two pillows.

The court heard how Channer, of Tewington Place, had acted out a similar fantasy 12 years before when he bound and gagged another man during an act of false imprisonment. But on that occasion, he was only given a caution despite the seriousness of the offence and was treated in a Bodmin psychiatric hospital.

Judge Graham Cottle said the victim was a man who "enjoyed a quiet and completely independent life" near his family.

He said Channer was in a relationship with Mr Payne which was unknown to the victim's own grown-up family.

He added: "It was a wicked act. Colin Payne was a much loved and missed man who met his death in quite appalling circumstances." Mr Payne's body was discovered by his son on Father's day on June 17 last year, however Channer is thought to have killed him as early as June 4 before travelling the country using the dead man's credit cards until he was arrested in Nottingham.

Channer admitted murdering grandfather Mr Payne at his flat in Helston, Cornwall, last June. He had previously admitted manslaughter – which was rejected by the Crown, Plymouth Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Simon Laws QC told the court that Mr Payne – who had run post offices in Ashton and Porthleven in West Cornwall before retiring – lived a quiet life and liked a drink, with his preference being sherry from Tesco's; and 20-stone Channer was a recluse who rarely went out.

Channer told police he had harboured thoughts of causing harm to Mr Payne and killing him by smothering him. Mr Laws said: "He described difficulties he had experienced going out in public and in meeting people and being abused over his size. He explained his reluctance of going to the shops in the day."

He said on the day of the murder Mr Payne asked him to go and buy some sherry but Channer was reluctant to do so and this minor incident triggered the murder.

Afterwards Mr Payne's son Nick said his family had lost a "loving father" and "good kind man". He said: "We are pleased with the verdict but for my sister, rest of our family and myself, we have been cruelly and prematurely robbed of a loving father and a central part of our family. We will never forget my dad and will now try and remember the happy times we have spent together instead of focusing on the needless and senseless murder of a good, kind man."

Paul Mann, QC, defending, said: "He never hid that he killed Mr Payne unlawfully. "He wants help."

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