A “cold and sinister” killer who beat and kicked his girlfriend’s uncle to death and took a trophy photograph of his bloodied victim has been found guilty of murder.
Not content with brutally battering Andrew Mather in his own home once, Wayne Miller got changed and went back to finish off his helpless victim
Prosecutors said he kicked or stamped on the dad’s voice box and left with with severe facial and head injuries from which he died.
After the conviction, Detective Inspector Graeme Barr, of Northumbria Police ’s homicide and major enquiry team, said: “This is a tragic case and our thoughts remain with Mr Mather’s family as they attempt to come to terms with their devastating loss.
“This was an appalling act of violence as Miller inflicted fatal injuries on his victim in two separate attacks.
“After the first attack, Miller took a trophy picture of his injured victim on his phone – before leaving the scene, changing his clothes, and then returning to deliver a further and unfortunately fatal attack on Mr Mather, who was by then utterly defenceless.
“His actions were cold and sinister, and I am pleased that his attempts to convince everyone that they were out of self-defence have been dismissed. He has proven himself to be a dangerous individual who has rightly been taken off our streets.
“I hope today’s outcome can offer Mr Mather’s family some kind of comfort at this awful time. We will not tolerate violence of any kind and will continue to use every tactic at our disposal to put violent offenders before the courts.”
When the emergency services went to 48-year-old Mr Mather’s home on Aintree Road, Farringdon, Sunderland, in June, they found his dead body, naked but for a pair of socks, on his bedroom floor between the bed and window.
A post mortem examination revealed he had suffered severe facial and head injuries and bleeding around the brain caused by blunt force trauma, likely to have been the result of punches, kicks and possibly stamps, with the possible use of a weapon.
During the trial, prosecutor Toby Hedworth QC said: “Significantly, the prosecution suggest the injuries were not caused in only one attack by the defendant the previous evening, but two.
“The defendant even took a trophy photograph of his work, subsequently deleting it.”
Mr Hedworth, who said there had been “ill will” in the family of Miller’s girlfriend and Mr Mather, said Miller’s movements that night had been pieced together using CCTV.
However a camera on Mr Mather’s home had been stolen by Miller to “cover his tracks”.
Around 7.30pm on June 2, a neighbour heard loud voices, screaming and arguing at Mr Mather’s home, the court was told.
Around 9pm, Miller and his girlfriend were seen walking away from the address, Miller wearing shorts and tan boots at that point.
Some 55 minutes later, he was captured on footage returning to Aintree Road, this time wearing tracksuit bottoms, trainers and gloves.
The court heard Mr Mather died as a result of facial and head injuries. There had been multiple impacts to the face and scalp, causing multiple fractures to the bones of his face.
Mr Hedworth said the severe nature of the facial fractures would have caused his upper airways to be compromised and a traumatic head injury is likely to have caused unconsciousness and impaired his breathing, as would the amount of blood in his airways.
He also lost five teeth, had bleeding around the brain and damage to the brain.
Mr Hedworth said: “Death was from the combined effects of these injuries, all caused from blunt force trauma, suggesting blows with fists, kicks and or stamps, including an injury to his neck consistent with a stamp or kick.”
Mr Hedworth showed jurors a photo police found on Miller’s phone, which he had deleted but which was recovered.
He said: “It’s unpleasant but necessary, ladies and gentlemen.
“It’s the body of injured Mr Mather lying on the floor of the landing.
“Mr Miller’s tan boot can be seen. It’s a picture he had taken at the end of what he had done in the first visit.
“Was this a trophy photograph taken by the defendant to show himself as a hard man?”
Mr Hedworth added that even if Miller had reason to defend himself, which the prosecution do not accept he did: “That man in that photograph, by the time Wayne Miller had finished with him in the first visit, plainly was not in a position to offer any resistance to any further violence used on him.
“If that is correct, the violence meted out down the side of his bed in the second visit could have no justification, save, unfortunately to ensure he was silenced.”
Miller claimed he had been defending himself but the only injuries he had were to his fists.
He dialled 999 the next morning claiming he’d had a fight with Mr Mather the night before and that he was concerned he might have keeled over as he was now not answering his door. But prosecutors said he knew his victim was lying lifeless on his bedroom floor by that stage.
Miller, of Dene Street, Sunderland, will be sentenced to life imprisonment next week, when Judge Paul Sloan QC will fix the minimum term he must serve.