Simon Says: R v Joe Storey

Simon Spence QC is one of our brilliant trustees and part of our legal team. Here he writes about his successful prosecution in Regina v Joe Storey- a domestic homicide:

I prosecuted this case at Norwich Crown Court in June 2017. Storey was charged with the Murder of his girlfriend, Kerri McAuley. He battered her to death in her flat whilst under the influence of alcohol and cocaine after a Friday night out. He left the flat, leaving her to die on the floor of her hallway.

Joe Storey was a large, powerful man. Kerri was petite and very pretty. She had two sons, of whom she was immensely proud. She maintained good relations with their father, who was looking after them for the weekend in question.

Storey and Kerri had a very turbulent relationship. He had been violent to her in the past and manipulated her mentally, bombarding her with thousands of texts and phone calls on a daily basis. Horrifying pictures of bruised and swollen face were found by the police on her Facebook page. And yes, she kept forgiving him and taking him back. In one very poignant text, she foreshadowed her own death, suggesting that one day he would kill her.

Storey’s controlling and violent behaviour was not restricted to Kerri. He had been the subject of no fewer than 4 Restraining Orders by courts in relation to previous girlfriends. All of this background evidence went before the jury to give them an indication of the sort of man they were trying.

Kerri’s injuries were horrific. They were limited to her head and face. Every bone in her facial structure was broken. He jawbone was fractured on both sides, so the jaw itself was hanging loose, held in place only by the skin covering it. Both eye sockets were broken and there were 21 separate fractures to her face. She had clearly tried to escape and he had pulled her back into the flat, given blood patterning around the front door. Before he left, he smeared her blood all over his face and took a selfie, which the police recovered from his phone. He left the flat with Kerri dying on the floor. He went to a friend’s flat and spent that evening and the following day scoring drugs and watching pornography on his mobile.

How was Kerri’s body discovered? Not by Storey notifying the police. Fortunately for Kerri’s two boys, they nor their father had a key to the flat, so when he returned the boys on the Sunday evening they could not get in. Kerri’s mother and brother had to attend and it was they who discovered her broken, bloodied body on the floor, a sight that will haunt them for the rest of their lives, they said.

Storey pleaded Not Guilty to Murder but admitted Manslaughter on the basis that he did not intend to cause Kerri serious bodily harm (the required intent for murder). It took the jury less than 40 minutes to reject his defence and convict him of murder.

He is now serving a life sentence for her murder with a minimum term of 24 years to serve before he is eligible to be considered for parole.

A dangerous woman beater is now safely behind bars.

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