15 February 2023

Man found guilty of churchyard murder after stabbing victim with screwdriver

15 February 2023

A 30-year-old man has been found guilty of murdering a father of one by stabbing him in the head with a screwdriver in a churchyard.

Melusi Madaweni killed 26-year-old Billy Pearson in the churchyard of Chesterfield Parish Church, also known as the Crooked Spire, in Derbyshire in the early hours of August 7 2022.

A jury took less than an hour on Wednesday to unanimously find Madaweni guilty of murder after a two-week trial at Derby Crown Court.

According to Derbyshire Police, officers were first alerted to Madaweni when CCTV operators in the town called about a man in the area wearing just his trousers and a face covering.

The operators had been contacted by a nearby bar, who had refused Madaweni entry.

Four minutes after the call, Madaweni was seen running near to the church and told police someone had tried to attack him, and that he had taken a screwdriver from them.

Mr Pearson was later found unconscious near a balaclava and the screwdriver in the churchyard, having suffered a deep wound to the back of his ear.

At hospital, the wound was found to have penetrated Mr Pearson’s brain and almost a week later his family, supported by doctors, had to make the decision to turn off his life support machine.

Detective Inspector Steve Shaw, who led the investigation into Mr Pearson’s death, said: “This was a tragic loss of life; Billy Pearson had been doing what many people do and been for an evening out socialising with his friends.

“At the end of the night, Billy had a chance encounter with Melusi Madaweni, an argument occurred and a small fight broke out. That should have been the end of it.

“Madaweni, though, chose to go home, arm himself with two screwdrivers and returned to the town centre with the intent to seek out Pearson and cause him serious harm. It shows how a simple tool can be used as a fatal weapon.”

DI Shaw added: “As always, a guilty verdict can never bring a loved one back, but I do hope it goes a little way towards providing some justice for Billy’s family and friends.”

Madaweni, of Chester Street, Chesterfield, will be sentenced on February 20.

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