Crawley man’s murder conviction upheld at appeal

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

A Crawley man who beat and strangled a homeless Portuguese man has had an appeal over his conviction dismissed.

Daniel Palmer beat and strangled Joao Esteves, and he filmed and took photographs of his victim while he was lying unconscious during the fatal attack.

Joao Esteves SUS-141108-134420001

Joao Esteves SUS-141108-134420001

The 25-year-old, of Station Hill, was ordered to serve at least 15 years behind bars after being found guilty of murder at Lewes Crown Court in August 2014.

Yesterday (Wednesday December 16) he launched a challenge at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, with his lawyers arguing there was ‘fresh evidence’ which cast doubt on the jury’s verdict.

They said Mr Esteves’ medical records from Portugal, which were not available at the trial, shed light on the victim’s mental health issues.

But Palmer’s appeal was thrown out by three senior judges, who said jurors were told about Mr Esteves’ medical history and the new evidence would have made little difference.

The court heard Palmer attacked Mr Esteves in Crawley during the early hours of January 19 2014, after a night out drinking.

Mr Esteves, 45, from Lisbon, approached Palmer at the junction of Haslett Avenue East and Stephenson Way to ask for a cigarette.

Palmer attacked the victim and then took photos and video footage, which he sent to a friend.

He then led Mr Esteves to a nearby alley, where he again beat him and pulled a cord tightly around his neck, before leaving him for dead without calling an ambulance.

He called and texted friends afterwards, sharing the footage and asking two of them to bring him petrol - which the prosecution claimed was in an effort to get rid of evidence.

Palmer also went to his father’s house and washed his clothes, before returning to the scene and speaking to police officers hours later.

He claimed he had acted in self defence after Mr Esteves said he had a knife and demanded Palmer’s mobile phone and wallet.

He also said he ‘accidentally’ filmed the victim after taking out his phone to call for an ambulance, and that he was trying to help him by taking him to an area of woodland known as Tent City.

Palmer claimed the cord, which he said had fallen out of his jacket hood earlier, was used in self defence after Mr Esteves tried to kick him in the alleyway.

However, his case was rejected by the jury and he was found guilty of the murder.

The court heard he had drunk eight pints of lager, had tried to hit one man and had been thrown out of a bar after starting a fight with another.

Mr Esteves was found unconscious in the alley and died in hospital later the same day.

He was trying to return home after failing to find work after just a few weeks in the UK, and was only in Crawley because he had been told he couldn’t sleep rough at Gatwick Airport.

His sister gave evidence at the trial that he was on medication for schizophrenia, which he sometimes didn’t take.

Palmer’s lawyers argued Mr Esteves’ medical records could have supported the defence case at trial that Palmer acted in self defence after the victim became violent.

But, dismissing the appeal, Mr Justice Openshaw said that, while the medical records weren’t available at trial, there was other evidence - including that from the victim’s sister - which provided insight into the victim’s mental health issues.

Sitting with Sir Brian Leveson and Mrs Justice Simler, he added: “We do not think that these extra fragments of information, mainly from a long time ago, would have had the impact on the trial and upon the verdict, which is suggested.

“Accordingly, we are not convinced that the criteria for the admission of this fresh evidence are met.

“It adds little to what was already known and we think it would have made little difference.

“Further, in light of the fact the prosecution put forward a strong case, with many factors militating against self defence, our conclusion is that the verdict is not unsafe.”

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