A jury has found a man guilty of murdering his mother and burying her on the Goodwood Estate near Chichester.
Neale James was found guilty at Hove Trial Centre today (Thursday, November 24) of planning the murder of his 78-year-old mother Brenda James and sentenced to serve a minimum of 28 years’ imprisonment.
The jury retired on earlier today to begin their three-and-a-half hours of deliberations after hearing more than three weeks of evidence.
During the trial they heard how the 51-year-old went to the site at Pilleygreen Hill, off Eastdean Hill road, and dug her grave in the woods at 7am on March 17, before returning hours later to kill and bury her.
He hit her four times on the head with a garden instrument, that has never been found, and buried her in the pre-dug grave.
In the days that followed he went to work, spent time with his family, and lied to his sister and police when asked if he knew where his missing mother was.
But on Wednesday, March 23, the day after friends reported her missing, he handed himself in, and admitted to killing her – but denied he planned it.
He even drew a map of where he buried her, and what the murder weapon looked like.
On March 24, her body was found and her son, who does not have a permanent address, but spent time in the Bognor Regis area, was a day later charged with her murder.
He claimed he killed her after losing self control during an argument while they went for a walk, and that his mother had sexually abused him when he was a teenager.
The jury heard evidence that James had been given more than £100,000 by his mother, and lied about the reasons he needed it, but in fact spent the majority of it in betting shops.
The prosecution say that he killed his mother, who lived at the Lakeside Holiday Park in Vinnetrow Road, Chichester after she began to ask questions about when she would be repaid.
Detective Chief Inspector Nick May, of Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, welcomed the verdict and said: “This has been an incredibly difficult time for the family of Brenda James and I would like to commend them on the way they have conducted themselves throughout the trial and the help they have given to police throughout the investigation.
“I would also like to thank the Goodwood Estate who have assisted police during this investigation.
“Neale James planned Brenda’s brutal murder after getting in debt through his gambling. He visited the Goodwood Estate in the hours immediately before he committed his own mother’s murder. This was a callous act and justice has been served today.”
Don’t miss the Observer dated December 1 for a full report.