Sentence of Gaynor Bale’s killer cut on appeal

Douglas Samuel

Douglas Samuel - Credit: Archant

A killer who bludgeoned his partner to death in a brutal attack in her own home has had his life sentence cut on appeal.

Gaynor Bale

Gaynor Bale - Credit: Archant

Douglas Samuel, 36, murdered his vulnerable girlfriend, 34-year-old Gaynor Bale – who was regularly subjected to violence at his hands – at her flat in Homerton.

Concerned neighbours called police who found Ms Bale’s body collapsed in the hallway on arrival, and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

He hit her abdomen with so much force during a violent outburst in November 2012 that her liver ruptured and she died.

The 35-year-old, of Marian Court, Link Street, Homerton, denied murder, admitting only manslaughter, saying he did not intend to cause serious harm to Ms Bale who weighed half as much as him.

But he was found guilty of murder by the jury, who heard the fatal attack was the culmination of escalating domestic violence, which she had endured over several years.

He was ordered to serve at least 20 years behind bars at the Old Bailey last November.

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His minimum term was cut to 18 years by judges sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court last Thursday.

A statement from the victim’s parents, read out in court, said: “What gave you the right to hit our daughter?

“You are a nasty bully who has taken our daughter away.”

Samuel’s lawyers had launched a bid to challenge his murder conviction, arguing the judge misdirected the jury in relation to the previous attacks.

But this was rejected by the Appeal Court judges, who said the conviction was safe.

However, the court did alter his sentence, saying his tariff was too long in light of the fact he did not intend to kill Ms Bale.

Judge Michael Stokes QC said: “No-one should leave this court with the view that we do not regard this as a very serious case of domestic violence.

“If there had been a stabbing or the like involved, we would not have altered the sentence.

“In this case however, the appellant accepted throughout the trial that he was responsible for the fatal injury, and the judge accepted he had no intention to kill.”