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UPDATED: Man jailed for the murder of George Barker in Bexley in November 2016

News   •   Sep 05, 2019 13:51 BST

Victim - George Barker

A man has been jailed for life for the murder of a young dad who was from Kent.

Charles Riddington, 37, (06.08.82), who was from Orpington, Kent, was jailed for life at the Old Bailey on Thursday, 17 October for the murder of George Barker in Bexleyheath in November 2016. Riddington was convicted of the murder at the same court on Thursday, 5 September.

He was sentenced as follows:

- For the murder of George Barker - sentenced to life imprisonment to serve a minimum of 19 years after being found guilty of murder.

- Possession of a prohibited weapon [CS spray] – three months imprisonment [to be served concurrent] following a guilty plea.

- Possession of a prohibited weapon [stun gun] – three months imprisonment [to be served concurrent] following a guilty plea.

In a family statement read to the court, George’s mother said: “My son was murdered. I buried my son. Such awful, unimaginable words I thought I would never, ever, have to say.

“George was the youngest, the baby of the family. He teased his sisters he was my favourite. He was my favourite son, my only son.”

George became a father just days before his murder.

In her statement, his mother added: “We take her [George’s daughter] to the grave sometimes where she points and says ‘My Daddy, my Daddy.’ We smile back and agree with her. Inside we are crying.”

At the start of the trial Riddington had pleaded guilty to possession of a stun gun and CS Spray [prohibited weapons].

During the trial, the court heard how at 09:05hrs on Monday, 14 November 2016, Riddington had gone to a martial arts gym, the Double K Gym in Stable Lane, Bexley, in the company of three other men.

George Barker, who was aged 24, from South Darenth, Kent, had also gone to the gym and entered at about 09:35hrs.

Riddington and George were known to each other. When George entered the gym, Riddington attacked him, accusing him of ‘going behind his back’ and repeatedly punching him.

As George called for Riddington to stop the assault, Riddington produced a knife and stabbed George in the head and body, continuing the attack as he pursued him through the gym.

People who went to George’s aid were warned by those accompanying Riddington ‘not to get involved.’

Following the stabbing Riddington, who was still carrying the knife, and the men who were with him fled the scene.

The people who rushed to George’s aid later described him as being ‘covered in blood.’

Police and the London Ambulance Service were called to the stabbing at 09:41hrs.

Emergency services attended, but despite all attempts to save him, George died at the scene.

A murder investigation was launched by the homicides detectives from Specialist Crime, led by Detective Chief Inspector Laurence Smith.

A post-mortem examination held on Tuesday, 15 November 2016 at the Princess Royal University Hospital gave the cause of death as stab wounds to the chest and abdomen.

In all, 17 sharp-wound-injuries were found on George’s body and these included defensive wounds to his arms.

Riddington was identified as a suspect but, during searches at addresses he had used, it quickly became apparent that he had been living under an alias for over 10 years.

Correspondence found in the searches showed he had applied and obtained passports and a driving licence in the name of Barry Ryan.

Also found during the searches were the stun gun and CS spray.

It was subsequently found that Riddington, using the alias of Barry Ryan, had left the country from Manchester Airport on 15 November 2016, heading to Dusseldorf.

As he was now believed to be a fugitive in Europe, a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) was issued.

In August 2018, Riddington was arrested and detained in northern Cyprus as part of a local investigation, where he had been living under another alias, Ricky de Bruin, with a Namibian passport.
He was deported to southern Cyprus and further arrested under the EAW on behalf of the MPS on Friday, 12 October.

Riddington was returned to the UK on Thursday, 8 November 2018 and appeared at Thames Magistrates' Court on Friday, 9 November. He was remanded in custody to appear at the Old Bailey.

Detective Chief Inspector Laurence Smith said: “My thoughts are with the family and friends of George Barker, I hope today’s sentence will bring them some small comfort.

“While the motive for the murder may never be known, we can be certain that the attack on George Barker was vicious and relentless, and that the sentence handed down by the court has removed a dangerous individual from society.

“The intention to kill George was clearly demonstrated by the 17 separate stab wounds that Riddington inflicted on him, despite his pleas for the attack to stop, as he pursued him through the gym.

“Riddington went to great lengths to evade taking responsibility for the murder, using a false name and passport, he sought to hide abroad. However, the tenacity and determination of officers resulted in him being located in Cyprus and being brought back to the UK to face charges.

“This case clearly highlights that those who think that they can hide abroad to avoid facing the penalties of violent crime can think again. We will relentlessly pursue anyone who inflicts harm on others and place them before the courts to face the consequences of their actions.”

* Below is the full statement by George Barker's mother which was provided to the court:

I am the mother of George Barker. I write this statement on behalf of my two daughters and me.

My son was murdered; our brother was murdered. I buried my son, we buried our brother. Such awful unimaginable words I thought I would never have to say. The gruesome, torturous details that we heard in court will be embedded in our minds forever. A deep scar that will never heal. George’s eldest sister is so traumatised by this she is unable to be here today [at court].

George was cheeky, funny and always smiling. Even as a young boy, if I told him off he would start grinning and then we would all start laughing.

George was the youngest; the baby of the family. He teased his sisters that he was my favourite (I always have a screensaver of him on my phone). He was my favourite son, he was my only son.

At school, George’s reports say he was one of the most intelligent in his year. He was particularly good at maths. If only he would stop acting the class clown! He would constantly make the whole class laugh.

He didn’t smoke and only drunk alcohol occasionally. His friends called him ‘lightweight’ as George preferred his smoothies to alcohol. From today it’s about three weeks until his birthday, he will or should be, 27 years old.

George has a baby girl, born a few days before he was murdered. She is so lovely, she looks like him, she smiles like him and has the same cheeky character. We take her to George’s grave sometimes where she climbs on the bench next to it and points to a photo we have of George. She says ‘My daddy, my daddy, my daddy!’ We smile back and agree with her, ‘Yes, yes Daddy!’ Inside we are crying. Her birthday is 7 November. It is also seven days countdown to George’s murder. It’s so awful.

Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Merry Christmases, Happy New Year’s simply don’t exist in our house anymore. We are glad when those days have gone. It doesn’t get easier with time, it gets worse.

George’s grandparents are upset beyond words.

George will always be with us. His cap is in the kitchen where he would always put it, his trainers are in the hall, his clothes in his wardrobe and a photo of him is in every room in the house. George is everywhere. He is our silent, empty shadow that will be with us forever. No one can take that from us.

The last time we saw George was the on the mortuary slab, where he had a bandage around his head.

We went with his girlfriend and the baby. She was just 10 days old. We could only see him through the glass as we were not allowed to touch him. This was the worst moment in our lives. Nothing can compare.

Every night we light a candle and say ‘Goodnight George.’ In the morning we blow the candle out and say ‘Good morning’.

We will always be together, we love you George and miss you so much. You will always be with us.