A MAN has today (Wednesday) been jailed for life to serve a minimum of 21 years for murdering a father who was falsely accused of being a paedophile in Pitsea.
Chris Carroll, 20, of Pevensey Close, Pitsea, was sentenced following a six-week trial at Chelmsford Crown Court, having been convicted of Darren Kelly’s murder yesterday.
Darren Kelly, of Voysey Gardens, Pitsea, was stabbed after being lured to Caister Drive on 20 October last year. Despite members of the public giving the 42-year-old first aid, he later died at Basildon Hospital.
Two boys aged 16 and 17 and a 15-year-old girl, all from Pitsea, also standing trial were found not guilty of murder.
The teenage girl had arranged to meet Mr Kelly via a messaging app.
But Mr Kelly had thought he had been speaking to a woman and there was no evidence that he was interested in underage girls.
He was chased and assaulted, before Carroll stabbed him several times.
The court heard attempts had been made to dispose of the evidence.
Carroll had thrown his hooded top into a wheeled bin in St Mary’s Crescent, Pitsea, and the murder weapon, a hunting knife, into Opal Lake near Burnt Mills Road.
Forensic tests confirmed the knife was the murder weapon and had also been used to slash the tyres of Mr Kelly’s car, which was parked in Edinburgh Way.
Speaking after the hearing, senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Stephen Jennings, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “While nothing will bring Darren back, we hope the verdict will help give his family some closure so they can move forward.
“Darren was viciously attacked and lost his life due to the completely unfounded belief that he intended to meet an underage girl.
“Essex Police strongly deter anyone from vigilante behaviour at any level. They could be acting upon inaccurate information and putting innocent people at serious risk.
“Anyone who has a genuine concern about potential criminal activity should always contact us so that we can investigate and not take the law into their own hands.
“I also want to reassure the residents of Basildon that knife crime is an issue that we take extremely seriously and we remain committed to putting offenders before the courts and working with our partners to make our communities safer.”