Drug dealer who bludgeoned his disabled amputee neighbour, 68, to death with hammer and meat cleaver before setting fire to his body after he complained about anti-social behaviour is jailed for life
- Alan Wyatt, 68, was found dead in flat in Gillingham, Kent, in February last year
- Neighbour Michael Bryant, 36, has admitted murdering the disabled pensioner
- Court heard Bryant ‘stoved’ pensioner’s face with a cleaver, knife and a hammer
- He then tried to set Mr Wyatt’s body on fire with corrosive liquid or accelerant
- Bryant, of Gillingham, Kent, given a life sentence with a 28 year minimum term
A drug dealer who bludgeoned his disabled amputee neighbour to death with a hammer and a meat cleaver before setting fire to his body has been jailed for life.
Michael Bryant, 36, ‘stoved in’ Alan Wyatt’s face with the weapons before pouring a corrosive liquid such as bleach or a fire accelerant over the 68-year-old’s body.
The ‘brutal’ murder took place at Mr Wyatt’s home in Gillingham, Kent, on Valentine’s Day last year, days after the ‘vulnerable’ amputee had made a complaint to the police and council about drug dealer Bryant’s anti-social behaviour.
Bryant had initially denied Mr Wyatt’s murder, before changing his plea to accept manslaughter and arson half-way through a previous trial.
But at Maidstone Crown Court today, Bryant pleaded guilty to murder. He was jailed for life and told he will have to serve at least 28 years.
But he was warned by the sentencing judge that he may spend the rest of his life behind bars if the parole board did not consider him suitable for release.
Michael Bryant (pictured left), 36, was told he will have to serve at least 28 years for the murder of disabled Alan Wyatt (pictured right) before he can be considered for parole
Jailing Bryant, Judge Adele Williams said he had carried out a ‘merciless and prolonged murder done for gain’, first attacking Mr Wyatt as he sat in his living room before dragging him into the bedroom to continue the onslaught.
‘You killed this vulnerable man in a brutal, vicious and horrifying way. You inflicted a cruel and prolonged attack upon him,’ she told Bryant.
‘You killed a frail, defenceless amputee….He was unable to defend himself.
‘You may have been angry with Alan Wyatt but I am sure you were intent on stealing from him, and formed the intention to kill when you went to the flat.
‘The attack was merciless and prolonged. You tried to dispose of the body by fire and you have done everything you can to evade responsibility for your crime and conceal your actions.’
Amputee Mr Wyatt was killed just six days after he had complained to police and the council about his upstairs neighbour’s anti-social behaviour.
A court heard the frail and defenceless 68-year-old suffered catastrophic injuries after Bryant ‘stoved in’ his face with at least three heavy implements – a meat cleaver, knife and hammer – on Valentine’s Day last year.
He suffered multiple fractures to his face, skull and neck, as well as numerous bruises and tears.
An attempt was then made to set his body alight with a corrosive liquid or accelerant in his ground-floor flat.
Prosecutor Oliver Saxby QC said Mr Wyatt was ‘mercifully’ dead from the sustained assault by the time that occurred, but those who discovered the blaze, including his brother and sister-in-law, at about 10.30am were met ‘with a scene of horror’.
Flames up to two metres high were coming from the area of Mr Wyatt’s bed, on which his body lay, and blood splattered walls and furniture.
The smoke detector had also been wrenched from the ceiling and was subsequently found in Bryant’s home.
Bryant, believed to have taken a mix of cocaine, heroin and cannabis, had been seen earlier that morning banging on Mr Wyatt’s door and being ‘aggressive and domineering’.
He was also spotted in the vicinity of Mr Wyatt’s front door as the smoke was billowing out but disappeared by the time the emergency services arrived at the property in Firethorn Close.
Bryant, a long-term heroin and crack cocaine addict, was already living in the upstairs council-owned flat when Mr Wyatt moved in downstairs. Pictured: A view of the property in Gilligham, Kent, where Alan Wyatt, 68, was found dead on 14 February
The 36-year-old was arrested in the early hours of February 15, as he slept in a shop doorway.
His face was still spotted with Mr Wyatt’s blood, he had been using his bank card, and many of Mr Wyatt’s belongings such as food and ornaments were found by police in his home.
But during lengthy police interviews he repeatedly denied any involvement in the killing or fire, describing Mr Wyatt as ‘the gentlest soul in the world’.
At Bryant’s trial, Mr Saxby described father-of-three Mr Wyatt as a friendly, trusted and generous man.
But he was said to be ‘increasingly disgruntled’ by his neighbour’s behaviour and had complained about drug-dealing from the flat above.
Mr Saxby said Mr Wyatt’s vulnerability played a part in Bryant not only taking advantage of his good nature but also ‘the ferocity’ of the fatal beating that morning.
‘Alan Wyatt was, the defendant probably thought as he was attacking him, someone who’s life had little value,’ said the prosecutor.
Mr Wyatt had had his left leg amputated after developing circulation problems in 2014 and relied on a wheelchair and mobility scooter to get around. He also wore a colostomy bag.
Having been living with and caring for his dementia-suffering mother from 2012 until she died in 2017, he then moved into his specially-adapted, one-bedroom flat.
Bryant, a long-term heroin and crack cocaine addict, was already living in the upstairs council-owned flat when Mr Wyatt moved in downstairs.
The court heard he allowed it to be used as a base by local drug runners, causing tension between himself and his downstairs neighbour.
The pair were initially friends, with Bryant helping the pensioner.
But by 2018, Mr Wyatt had started to complain to the authorities about the various toings and froings from Bryant’s home.
Just six days before his killing, Mr Wyatt had informed a police community safety officer and a council employee of his concerns which included alleged tampering of a meter and rubbish strewn in the garden.
He had also complained to his son about Bryant’s behaviour, and told Bryant in a note he no longer wanted his help.
But by 2018, Mr Wyatt had started to complain to the authorities about the various toings and froings from Bryant’s home, Maidstone Crown court (pictured) heard.
Following his arrest, Bryant sought to blame others for the killing, including a woman Mr Wyatt had befriended.
When forensics linked him to the fatal attack, he then claimed others were to blame. He said he had tried to stop it but he became too scared and fled the flat.
‘It was a last-ditch attempt by a guilty man to escape responsibility for the unspeakable crime he had committed,’ added Mr Saxby.
He also told the court Bryant, who has 13 previous convictions for violence and dishonesty, had no psychiatric issues and had therefore ‘most likely concocted’ another story of hearing voices.
The use of bleach or accelerant on Mr Wyatt’s body were ‘not sadistic, but concerted, if ill-thought through, attempts to destroy his body’, added the prosecutor.
The court heard Bryant disputed using three weapons, claiming he only attacked Mr Wyatt with a hammer.
The tool, together with a knife and cleaver, all revealed traces of his DNA or fingermarks and Mr Wyatt’s blood.
In a moving statement to the court, Mr Wyatt’s family described him as their ‘cheerful, happy and trusting lifeline’ who was ‘the life and soul of a party when spun around in his wheelchair on the dancefloor’.
The court heard Bryant had been born addicted to heroin and his addict parents both died when he was seven.