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Burglar beat 73-year-old man to death

Mark Love
Mark Love

A burglar has been found guilty of murdering a pensioner at his village bungalow.

Roy Blackman, 73, was battered to death while trying to protect his property from burglars in Biddenden, near Ashford, Kent, detectives believe.

The grandfather's body was found on March 21 after his home had been ransacked of items including jewellery, firearms and a safe holding large sums of cash.

Mark Love, 38, was convicted of murder after jurors in his trial at Maidstone Crown Court heard that his DNA was found on a bathroom tap in Mr Blackman's home and a glove, Kent Police said.

Love was also found guilty of being part of a gang that carried out an aggravated burglary at the home of multi-world and European clay pigeon shooting champion George Digweed a month earlier.

Roy Blackman

The four-strong gang smashed their way into Mr Digweed's property in Northiam, near Hastings, East Sussex, on February 21 before beating him and stealing cash, a Toyota Hilux 4x4 and firearms.

In a separate incident, William Smith, 36, who was on police bail over Mr Blackman's death, died after being shot by police during a pre-planned operation in Goudhurst, Kent, on May 1.

Love, of Frittenden Road, Staplehurst, will be sentenced later on Thursday. Following his conviction, relatives of Mr Blackman said they felt "justice has been served".

In a statement, they said: "The horror of what Mark Love and others did to our dad that night, together with the ransacking of his house, will haunt us forever and is truly unforgivable.

"Justice has been served today but it will not bring him back. We have lost our dad, our role model, and our children have lost their beloved grandad."

Detective Inspector Lee Whitehead, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: "This was a cowardly and completely unnecessary attack. Although Mark Love's conviction and imprisonment will protect the public, it will not bring Mr Blackman back."