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18th Apr 2023

Father and son face 42 years in jail for ‘harrowing and brutal’ murder of wife’s new lover

Steve Hopkins

The father and son beat and strangled him to death in front of his estranged wife

A jilted husband who murdered his estranged wife’s new lover with the help of his son after finding him hiding in a wardrobe has been jailed for 24 years.

Wayne Peckham, 49, was sentenced on Tuesday after being found guilty of the “harrowing and brutal” murder of 39-year-old Matthew Rodwell.

Wayne’s son, 23-year-old Riley Peckham was jailed for 18 years for his murder in the crime.

A court heard how the father and son, from Hilgay, Norfolk, hunted down Matthew after entering his house uninvited and found him hiding in a wardrobe.

Riley shouted “you’re going to die”, “here doggy” and “good boy” before finding him in a young boy’s wardrobe at Downham Market, Norfolk.

Wayne, estranged from his wife Kerry Peckham, let himself into the house Kerry shared with Matthew after her son Riley had climbed through a first-floor window.

The pair then hunted Matthew down and beat and strangled him to death in front of Kerry.

Matthew Rodwell

The jury at Norwich Crown Court took 10 hours to deliberate before finding the pair unanimously guilty after a six-week trial.

The pair had denied murder.

Judge Anthony Bate said: “Wayne had committed targeted vandalism to Matthew’s car, stalked him on previous occasions and set fire to a coat Matthew bought for Wayne’s youngest son, Harvey, and posted the video on Facebook.

“Riley took his father’s side against Matthew. Their visit [to Matthew’s house] was no speculative social call. They suspected Matthew was there with Kerry and decided to do him serious harm.

“This was a brutal and sustained assault on a man in his home and in front of her partner who was herself injured.

“The attack wasn’t spontaneous. The premeditation by Wayne Peckham is significant.”

Riley had found Matthew’s pair of shoes at the bottom of the stairs on 23 January, 2022, and shouted, “he’s here” to his father outside the house.

Wayne then let himself in through the front door.

Matthew, a refuse worker and father of two, had called 999 from the wardrobe after realising the pair were outside and told the operator he was afraid of what was about to happen.

Riel Karmy-Jones KC, prosecuting, said Matthew, from Fincham, Norfolk, was “terrified about being found by Riley and Wayne” and expressed “genuine fear about what was about to take place” during the call.

When the pair found him, he was then beaten and strangled to death at the bottom of the stairs.

Kerry tried to get herself between the pair and Matthew to stop them.

Matthew had 40 “significant” injuries from being kicked, stamped and punched.

Kerry, who was also injured during the ordeal, said the pair “thumped and beat the life out of him”.

Matthew was pronounced dead at the scene.

His cause of death was manual strangulation.

A recording from Matthew’s 999 call heard his last word, “sorry” before a “guttural sound” was recorded a minute later.

Police arrived at about 8.05pm and could hear “screaming” from inside.

A distraught Kerry came to the door. Matthew’s body was lying in the hall.

Wayne was detained at the scene after he had initially tried to hide behind a curtain, while Riley escaped in handcuffs.

He was caught a couple of hours later at his step-grandfather’s address.

The court heard Kerry moved in with Matthew after ending her “turbulent” relationship with Wayne, the father of her three children, who was “rough, volatile and controlling” towards her.

Karmy-Jones said Wayne could be “aggressive” after drinking and was a “bad influence” on his son Riley.

As well as murder Wayne was convicted of assaulting his wife with assault occasioning actual bodily harm on the same night.

He was also convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm involving another family in Downham Market in December, 2021, and sentenced to 15 months and 16 months for the assaults, to run concurrently with his 24-year life sentence.

Riley was also convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in relation to the same incident in December, 2021 and sentenced to 12 months and eight months to run concurrently with his 18 year sentence.

Matthew and Kerry got together after she left Wayne in the spring of 2021.

Matthew had moved into her house in Downham Market but parked a distance away to avoid Wayne from finding out.

The court heard that Wayne had spent the afternoon in a pub before heading to her house, where the pair moved a doorbell and CCTV camera.

Karmy-Jones said the pair “acted together to settle scores” as a “joint enterprise”.

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Chris Burgess, from the Major Investigation Team, said: “This was a harrowing and brutal murder.

“I know some of the evidence given in court, especially the 999 call, has been difficult to listen to.

“In this call, we hear the final frightening moments of Matthew’s life, a life taken by the actions of two men overcome with jealousy and rage, acting like a pack of animals.

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