Bail granted in ‘screwdriver’ murder case

Jonathan Barton
Jonathan Barton

A FORMER professional boxer who is facing a murder charge after the victim he assaulted with a screwdriver died nine years later, was granted bail when he appeared in court yesterday.

Leigh Clift, 31 was jailed for ten years in 2002 for assaulting Jonathan Barton outside the Beacon in Mount Farm.

The screwdriver went right through the victim’s head and left the 19-year-old confined to a wheelchair, unable to move or speak.

Mr Barton defied all odds to remain alive, but died on July 11, 2009 in his sleep.

Judge John Bevan said: “He was looked after with extraordinary care and compassion by his family.”

A recent change in the law meant police were able to reopen the investigation and recharge his attacker with murder based on evidence from a pathologist.

Mr Clift, who served five years of the ten year sentence in prison, appeared at Luton Crown Court but the murder charge was not put to him.

A timetable was set for the progress of the case, with a possible date for the trial arranged for October 3 this year at the same court.

His application for bail was unopposed.

Judge Bevan set various conditions including an electronically monitored curfew and reporting to police twice a week.

Mr Clift, a driver, from Lincolnshire Close in Bletchley will be back in court on March 25 when the murder charge will be put to him.