A jilted husband who beat and strangled his wife’s new lover to death during a “brutal and sustained” assault is starting a life sentence today along with his son, after both were convicted of murder. The court was told 39-year-old Matthew Rodwell’s final moments were captured on a 999 call – with pathologists subsequently identifying 40 “significant” injuries on his body.
Wayne Peckham, 49, was jailed for 24 years, while his son Riley, 23, was jailed for 18 years, after a jury at Norwich Crown Court took 10 hours to deliberate before finding the pair unanimously guilty following a six-week trial. Both had denied murder.
Judge Anthony Bate said: “Wayne had committed targeted vandalism to Matthew’s car, stalked him on previous occasions and set fire to a coat Matthew bought for Wayne’s youngest son Harvey and posted the video on Facebook. Riley took his father’s side against Matthew.”
The pair’s visit to Mr Rodwell’s house had been “no speculative social call”, Mr Bate said.
He explained: “They suspected Matthew was there with Kerry and decided to do him serious harm. This was a brutal and sustained assault on a man in his home and in front of her partner who was herself injured.
“The attack wasn’t spontaneous. The premeditation by Wayne Peckham is significant.”
A court heard how the pair hunted down Mr Rodwell, 39, after entering his house, in Downham Market, Norfolk, uninvited on January 23, 2022.
Riley Peckham, who climbed through a first-floor window, found Matthew’s pair of shoes at the bottom of the stairs on Jan 23, 2022, and shouted, “he’s here” to his father outside the house.
Wayne Peckham, who is estranged from wife Kerry Peckham, then let himself in through the front door of the property shared by Kerry and Matthew.
Riley Peckham then yelled, “You’re going to die, you’re going to die”, “here doggy” and “good boy” before finding Mr Rodwell in a wardrobe upstairs.
Mr Rodwell, a refuse worker and father of two, had called 999 from the wardrobe after realising the father and son were outside, and told the operator he was afraid of what was about to happen.
Riel Karmy-Jones KC, prosecuting, said Mr Rodwell, from Fincham, Norfolk, was “terrified about being found by Riley and Wayne”.
She said during the call, made from a bedroom wardrobe in Mrs Peckham’s youngest son’s room, Mr Rodwell expressed “genuine fear about what was about to take place”.
When the pair found him, he was then beaten and strangled to death at the bottom of the stairs.
Mrs Peckham tried to get herself between the pair and Mr Rodwell to stop them, but she was also injured in the attack which followed, telling the court they “thumped and beat the life out of him”.
Matthew was pronounced dead at the scene, with his cause of death recorded as manual strangulation. He sustained 40 “significant” injuries from being kicked, stamped and punched.
A recording from Matthew’s 999 call heard his last word, “sorry” before a “guttural sound” was recorded a minute later.
Police arrived at about 8.05pm and were able to hear “screaming” from inside, the court heard.
A distraught Kerry Peckham came to the door with the body of Mr Rodwell lying in the hall.
Wayne was detained at the scene after he had initially tried to hide behind a curtain, while Riley escaped in handcuffs.
He was caught a couple of hours later at his step-grandfather’s address. Matthew’s blood was found on the pair’s clothing and his DNA was under their fingernails.
The court was told Mrs Peckham moved in with Mr Rodwell in the spring of 2021 after ending her “turbulent” relationship with Wayne, father of her three children, who was “rough, volatile and controlling” towards her.
Matthew had moved into her house in Downham Market but parked a distance away to avoid Wayne from finding out.
Ms Karmy-Jones said Wayne could be “aggressive” after drinking and was a “bad influence” on his son Riley.
As well as murder, Wayne was convicted of assaulting his wife with assault occasioning actual bodily harm on the same night.
He was also convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm involving another family in Downham Market in December 2021, and sentenced to 15 months and 16 months for the assaults, to run concurrently with his 24-year life sentence.
Riley was also convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in relation to the same incident in December 2021 and sentenced to 12 months and eight months to run concurrently with his 18-year sentence.
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The court heard that Wayne had spent the afternoon in a pub before heading to her house, where the pair moved a doorbell and CCTV camera.
Ms Karmy-Jones said the pair “acted together to settle scores” as a “joint enterprise”.
Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Chris Burgess, from the Major Investigation Team, said: “This was a harrowing and brutal murder.
“I know some of the evidence given in court, especially the 999 call, has been difficult to listen to.
“In this call, we hear the final frightening moments of Matthew’s life, a life taken by the actions of two men overcome with jealousy and rage, acting like a pack of animals.
“I want to thank the family and friends of Matthew for their patience, support and bravery throughout this investigation and I’m grateful the correct verdict has been reached by the jury in this case.
“Our thoughts remain with Matthew’s family and friends, and we will continue to support them for as long as they need.”