Crawley murder trial: Palmer jailed for life

Daniel Palmer SUS-141108-125727001
Daniel Palmer SUS-141108-125727001

A 24-year-old Crawley man has been jailed for life after being convicted of battering to death a Portuguese man he found wandering the streets.

Daniel Palmer was jailed at Lewes Crown Court (Monday August 11) after a four-week trial. He was locked up for life and told he would serve a minimum of 15 years.

He had pleaded not guilty.

The court heard Palmer repeatedly punched Joao Esteves, 45, on the forecourt of Kwik Fit, off Haslett Avenue East, before leading his victim to a nearby alleyway where he continued with the assault.

He filmed the injured Mr Esteves using his mobile phone after the attack and then took more pictures after he had left his victim lying critically wounded in the alleyway between Stephenson Way and Haslett Avenue East.

The body of Mr Esteves, from the Lisbon area of Portugal, was found at 3.25am on January 19. He was taken to hospital suffering from serious head injuries but died later.

Mr Esteves had travelled to Britain from Portugal for a job interview but did not have anywhere to stay and was preparing to sleep rough for the night before catching a return flight home from Gatwick.

After the attack, Palmer went home and washed his clothes before changing and going back to the scene several hours later to watch and speak to police officers sealing off the area and beginning the investigation.

The jury at Lewes Crown Court was shown CCTV footage of Palmer and Mr Esteves going into the alleyway together before Palmer is later seen leaving the area on his own.

Palmer sent a photograph of the victim after the attack to a friend who alerted police after seeing news coverage of the murder.

Palmer, of Maunsell Park, Station Hill, Crawley, was arrested and later charged with murder.

Detective Chief Inspector Jason Taylor, who led the police investigation, said: “Palmer carried out a cowardly and vicious attack on Joao Esteves, who had done nothing to provoke him.

“He refused to answer questions about the attack but we were able to prove with CCTV, DNA evidence and witnesses that he caused Mr Esteves terrible injuries.

“Palmer later claimed that he had only acted in self defence, despite the fact that he assaulted Mr Esteves at two different locations.

“He even took photographs and filmed his victim after he had carried out the attack that he sent to friends almost as a trophy, as if to brag about what he had done.

“Mr Esteves was an innocent visitor to Sussex who had the misfortune to come across a violent thug who took his life.”