Parents pay tribute to their murdered son
THE grief-stricken parents of a man murdered in a savage attack with a frying pan have paid tribute to their "sensitive and generous" son.
Anne and Peter Drury, who live in Whimple near Exeter, say they are still coming to terms with the loss of their 32-year-old son Paul but take comfort from the fact his murderer is no longer a danger to the public.
Paul's killer Bryan Harris was sentenced to life in prison and told he would serve a minimum of 18 years after being convicted of murder at Exeter Crown Court.
Harris, 45, and his girlfriend Dawn Lewis were lodging with 32-year-old Mr Drury at his home in Newton Abbot when Harris battered him to death in a 20-minute-long attack last November.
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He attacked him in a jealous rage after waking in the middle of the night to find him on the living room floor with Miss Drury.
He claimed the couple were making love but the victim's family and the police believe the attack was an unprovoked outburst of extreme violence and the judge described it as a "punishment beating administered to seek revenge."
Despite his educational difficulties, Paul lived independently in Valley Path, a house bought for him by his family.
His mum Anne frequently visited his home — including in the week leading up to his death — to clean it, do his washing and offer him any support he needed.
But his decision, made in good faith, to allow Harris and Ms Lewis to stay with him set in motion a catastrophic chain of events which resulted in his death.
In a statement, Mr and Mrs Drury said: "We are content with the outcome of the trial. For us, these proceedings have not been about revenge. Nothing can restore Paul to us.
"What we have been looking for through this prosecution is the protection of society; the long-term protection from the risk that Harris might, once again, unleash further relentless, brutal and lethal attacks on other undeserving victims. This has now been achieved.
"Despite his obvious problems, Paul was a sensitive and generous individual. Those who knew Paul will have seen through the series of lies told by Harris to save his own skin.
"The only act of betrayal that night was committed by Harris himself in his vicious assault on someone good enough to provide him with a roof over his head.
"We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those agencies and teams involved, initially at the crime scene and thereafter in investigating the case and contributing to this successful prosecution.
"It can not have been easy but we applaud the efforts of each and every one.
"We would also like to wish Miss Lewis all the best with her recovery.
"We have been overwhelmed by the support that we have received. Not a day has passed since those horrendous events when we have not thought of Paul, sustained by tales of his friends. He will remain in our hearts forever."
Harris, a former vagrant with a lifelong career in crime, has more than 35 previous offences, many for violence, and is a convicted paedophile.
He believed he had found stability for the first time in his life when he moved into Miss Lewis's home in Newton Abbot, and he started working part-time at a stables run by her sister in Ideford, where she kept her horse Dude.
Things went wrong within weeks when they were evicted because of allegations of anti-social behaviour and they were saved from a life on the streets by Mr Drury, who agreed to put them up for £20 a week at his home in Valley Path, Newton Abbot.
Mr Drury was killed in the middle of the night about three weeks later.
Sentencing Harris Judge Mr Justice told him: "You assaulted Mr Drury with such ferocity it caused devastating and fatal injuries. You punched him, you used your feet on him and you also used a frying pan as a weapon to beat him."