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Newton Abbot lodger killed his landlord with frying pan

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 11, 2012

Paul Drury murder house

A lodger is facing life in jail after being found guilty of battering his landlord to death with a frying pan in a fit of jealous rage.

Stable-hand Bryan Harris attacked Paul Drury after accusing him of having sex with his girlfriend as he slept in a different room.

He subjected slightly-built Mr Drury to a sustained and savage attack in which he punched and kicked him for 15 minutes before clubbing him with the frying pan.

Harris then turned on his girlfriend Dawn Lewis and beat her about the face and body, leaving her with two black eyes and severe bruising on her arms and ribs.

Harris at first claimed they had been attacked by a mystery gang which had invaded the house but changed his story after 32-year-old Mr Drury's blood was found on his shoes and trousers.

He denied using the frying pan in the attack but a bloodstained finger print was found on the handle and a large dent was left in the pan itself.

Harris and Miss Lewis moved into Mr Drury's home in Valley Path, Newton Abbot, a few weeks before the killing last November after being forced to move out of her home in nearby Wolborough Street.

They were paying £20 a week rent and sleeping on a settee in the living room. Harris, who had been homeless for most of his adult life, was working in a stables at Ideford where she kept a horse named Dude.

He had been drinking heavily before the killing and fallen asleep. He woke to find his girlfriend with Mr Drury and attacked them both as they lay on the living room floor.

Harris, aged 45, of Valley Path, Newton Abbot, denied murder but was found guilty. He was also found guilty of wounding Miss Lewis with intent to do her grievous bodily harm.

There were gasps of delight from Mr Drury's family who were packed into the public gallery at Exeter Crown Court but Harris gave an audible smirk as the jury returned its verdict after three hours of deliberation.

Judge Mr Justice Evans told him he would sentence him today after considering what minimum term to impose.

He thanked the jury and told them: "I need to consider the minimum term I have to impose. There is only one sentence I can pass, and that is a life sentence, but I also have to determine a minimum term."

The judge was passed a handwritten letter from Harris expressing his remorse and a sheaf of victim impact statements from the dead man's family.

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