Murder suspect found dead in cell

Published: Monday 26th January 2015 by The News Editor

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An alleged killer accused of murdering two pensioners has been found dead in his prison cell in a suspected suicide.

Leo Barnes from Balsall Heath was on trial for the murders of Cynthia Beamond and Philip Silverstone.

The 33-year-old was found dead in his cell at HMP Hewell in Redditch yesterday morning, West Midlands police said.

Barnes had been due to be cross-examined in court on Friday but complained he felt ill, police said.

He had been accused of killing Mrs Beamond, 80, and 67-year-old Mr Silverstone on consecutive days in June last year.

Mrs Beamond’s daughter Cynthia said her family is “devastated” by the news, adding that her mother will now not get justice.

Beverley Hadley said: “We are devastated as a family that the man we believe is responsible for the brutal murder of my beloved Mum is not going to face justice for this horrendous crime.

“On Friday 27 June 2014 my life changed forever when my Mum and best friend went missing.

“Without Mum, every day of our lives is painful and empty. Every day I wake up thinking about her and believing that this whole nightmare is just a dream, but then the realisation hits me over and over again that it is not a dream − it really is that nightmare.

“We have been deprived of those valuable final years of Mum’s life and those precious moments with her to say our final goodbyes.

“She is missed by everyone who knew her and her loss has left a huge void. Our lives have been devastated and changed forever. As a family we are now suffering our own life sentence.”

Police said an investigation will be held into Barnes’ death but it is not deemed “suspicious”.

West Midlands Police Detective Inspector Caroline Corfield, who led the murder enquiry, said: “I am shocked to hear about the death of Leo Barnes who was found dead in his cell at HMP Hewell by prison staff. His death is not deemed suspicious.

“Family Liaison Officers have been supporting the families of both Cynthia and Philip – and officers have also notified Mr Barnes’ next of kin.”

Published: Monday 26th January 2015 by The News Editor

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