A jury has convicted a man of murdering a homeless person in a Canterbury car park, following a trial at the city’s crown court.
Sobantu Sibanda was found guilty of the murder of 51-year-old Guy Malbec, who had been staying in a car park in Castle Street.
During the afternoon of Monday 10 April 2023, Kent Police was called to the car park after it was reported that a man had been fatally assaulted.
The body of Mr Malbec was found inside a sleeping bag in a tent on the car park's lower ground floor and a post-mortem examination confirmed he had died through blunt force trauma injuries to his head, face and torso.
An investigation was launched by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate and established that Mr Malbec had been fatally attacked in the early hours of Sunday 9 April.
CCTV footage captured a series of assaults carried out intermittently over a period of around an hour by a man who was later identified as Sibanda.
In his evidence during the trial, Sibanda said that he had believed Mr Malbec had stolen drugs from his tent.
Sibanda had become violent and used the victim’s own possessions, including a laptop and a wooden gavel, to beat him in an assault which lasted from around 4.40am until 5.35am on Sunday 9 April.
Sibanda and three other men, Keith Hall, Gavin Houghton and Airidas Sakalauskas, were witnessed at the scene following the attack, searching through the victim's property.
Personal items belonging to Mr Malbec were destroyed and other items were taken, including items of sentimental value such as a number of pink sapphires and a silver pill box. Mr Malbec’s phone was also taken, meaning he could not call 999.
Sibanda and others returned to the scene during the day to remove the victim’s tent and bloodstained items, and to clear the area. Mr Malbec’s body was then left in Sibanda’s tent until he was found by police.
Sibanda, 28, of no fixed address, was tracked down by police and arrested on 10 April.
Houghton, 50, and Sakalauskas, 22, both of Old Dover Road, Canterbury, were arrested the following day and Hall, 51, of Athelstan Road, Canterbury, became the fourth man to be arrested, on 13 April.
In court, all four men admitted perverting the course of justice through their actions following the assault and, during the hearing, Sibanda pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Sibanda was found guilty of murder on Friday 17 November, following a six-week trial at Canterbury Crown Court. Hall, Houghton and Sakalauskas were found not guilty of that charge.
Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Kath Way from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said:
'This was a brutal, prolonged attack on Mr Malbec, who had previously had such a promising life ahead of him, but whose poor health had led to him living on the streets in Canterbury.
'He was vulnerable and had no way to defend himself when he was subjected to such a vicious attack.
'Sibanda left him to die and disposed of his property, giving no thought to his victim until he was later arrested. He acted callously and without remorse.
'During the trial, the jury have heard of the ordeal Mr Malbec was put through, and his family have learned in detail what sadly happened to their beloved son, brother and uncle.
'I hope today's guilty verdict brings some comfort to his family as they attempt to rebuild their lives after this appalling crime.'