Rough sleeper 'set on fire and murdered' in Tunbridge Wells


Giles MetcalfeImage copyright
Kent Police

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Post-mortem tests indicate Giles Metcalfe died as a result of the effects of a fire

A man who had separated from his wife was doused in barbecue fluid and burnt to death in a town centre car park, a murder trial has heard.

Giles Metcalfe, 43, died from burns and smoke inhalation in Tunbridge Wells in the early hours of 7 March.

Dean Malcolm Lewis, 34, of no fixed address, and James Marshall-Gunn, 30, of Hadlow Road, Tonbridge, deny murder.

Philip Bennetts QC, prosecuting, told Maidstone Crown Court: “They together went in to kill him by fire.”

‘Settling down’

The court heard how Mr Metcalfe was homeless and on the night he died he planned to sleep in a car park above a shop on Torrington Road.

Mr Metcalfe sent his wife a text just after 22:30 BST, saying: “Settling down for the night. It’s all good xx.”

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The area that Mr Metcalfe was found in was said to be full of smoke

Just after 02:30 BST, Kent Fire and Rescue service was notified of an alarm at the shop, The Range. A member of staff from the store attended and investigated with a colleague.

Sleeping bag invitation

They discovered Mr Metcalfe’s badly burnt body on the first floor of the car park, next to the charred remains of his sleeping bag.

An open bottle of barbecue lighting fluid and two lighters were nearby.

The court was told that Mr Lewis and Mr Marshall-Gunn were with Mr Metcalfe earlier that evening at Sainsbury’s buying whisky.

Just before midnight, the court heard the three men were in the car park with two women. One of them was in a relationship with Mr Lewis.

Mr Metcalf is said to have suggested the woman join him in his sleeping bag.

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Giles Metcalfe had chosen a car park in the centre of town the night he died

Mr Marshall-Gun and Mr Lewis were seen leaving the car park on CCTV, but the prosecution said they re-entered the car park later.

Philip Bennetts QC, prosecuting, said: “They went together to kill him by fire. What other explanation can there be? In. Fire. Out.”

Mr Lewis told police they had all been drinking together and Mr Metcalfe “started saying really weird stuff”.

“He then poured lighter fluid all over himself. It really freaked me out and I went back to my girlfriend,” he said.

Pathologist Olaf Biedrzycki found no evidence of any “defensive” injuries to Mr Metcalfe.

But Mr Metcalfe’s blood alcohol level was more than three times the drink-drive limit, the court heard.

Dr Biedrzycki concluded: “It seems reasonable to suggest the deceased may have been asleep and relatively oblivious to the presence of anyone around him”.

The trial continues.



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