A trio of 'despicable and twisted' killers have been convicted over the death of rough sleeper Martin Dines.

Mr Dines, 56, was killed in St Mary’s Car Park in Balkerne Hill, Colchester, in April.

Mark Hartley and Darren Miller were convicted of the murder, while Heidi Kenney was convicted of manslaughter yesterday.

  • Darren Miller and Mark Hartley

They will be sentenced together on January 11 next year and Judge Levett said he will have to decide in the two men’s case whether their actions had sadistic elements to determine their minimum term.

Over the course of the trial at Ipswich Crown Court the jury heard the distressing details of the murder.

Mr Dines was attacked three times on the night he died, the first in Head Street outside the Royal Bank of Scotland where he regularly begged, and then in Crouch Street.

But the worst of the violence came in the stairwell of the town centre car park where he suffered horrific injuries to his genitals – the like of which a pathologist said he had never seen before- had his ear bitten off and his head stamped on repeatedly.

Kennedy and Hartley blamed Miller for the majority of the violence, while Miller blamed Hartley.

As Mr Dines laid lifeless the three went back to Hartley’s flat where they stayed for approximately 20 hours, only venturing out to steal more booze.

Police then arrived to arrest them.

Read more: How the murder of rough sleeper unfolded

Kennedy, of Queen Elizabeth Way, Colchester, Miller, of no fixed address, and Hartley, of New Kiln Road, Colchester, had all denied murder.

But Miller admitted to Mr Dines’ manslaughter while Kennedy admitted assaulting Lisa Peck, a friend of Mr Dines, on the same night.

Gazette: Investigations - St Mary’s car park, where the victim, named locally as Martin Dines, was found dead

Det Supt Stephen Jennings of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate described it as a "savage attack" on a vulnerable man.

Read more here: Martin Dines' killers described as 'despicable and twisted'

The catalyst of the three attacks were rumours Mr Dines had called Mark Hartley a fake paratrooper - an accusation that was actually completely true.

Martin was left with more than 70 injuries.

Read more: Rough sleeper Martin 'suffered horrific violence from a man who had lost the plot'

Of the three defendants, Darren Miller knew Mr Dines the best.

Both of them were rough sleepers in Colchester with Miller bedding down most nights in a shop doorway opposite the Playhouse pub in St John’s Street.

He said the two of them had known each other for between 15 and 20 years – a similar amount of time as he had identified himself as an alcoholic.

Despite never being a Paratrooper, Mark Hartley did service in the Army in the First Battalion Scots Guards and completed an active tour of Afghanistan.


  • Martin Dines

But after returning to the UK, injury and illness meant he was unable to go back overseas and he was discharged when he tested positive for cocaine.

Despite never serving in the regiment, his flat contained a maroon beret – synonymous with the Paras – and their flag. He also has a wings tattoo on his chest.

Read more: Murderer Hartley forced to quit Army after drugs shame

Read more: Murderer Darren Miller was rough sleeper for 15 years

According to Heidi Kennedy, the only reason she became embroiled in the death of Martin Dines was because she didn’t want to waste a sunny day.

The first time the 47-year-old met Mr Dines, Hartley or Miller was on the day of the incident.

Kennedy admitted shouting at Mr Dines during the night, stupidly tipping takeaway food over his head and slapping his friend Lisa Peck.

But she denies ever being violent to Mr Dines. She blamed Miller for the worst of the violence in the stairwell and Hartley played a minor role.

Read more: Killer Kennedy said she ‘barely knew’ murderers