ANDREW Southwood, 39, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of convicted rapist Carl Ball, 51, who was attacked with a plank of wood outside his Newport flat on August 19, 2022. The trial, which concluded on June 28, revealed the horrifying details of the assault that led to Mr. Ball’s death.
Just minutes after being dropped off by PCSOs near his home in Heron Way, Duffryn, Mr. Ball was left with internal bleeding from multiple tears in his muscle tissue and spleen. He was discovered lying injured outside his flat, and despite the efforts of an air ambulance and emergency services, he passed away at 8.29 pm. Mr. Ball, in his last moments, managed to identify Andrew Southwood as the perpetrator of the attack, stating, “They attacked me. They hit me with a stick. With a plank of wood… Southwood did it.”
Before this incident, Mr. Ball had a history of violent encounters but no suggestion was made that Southwood was involved in those prior assaults. Shockingly, during the time of the assault, Southwood was in contact with Mr. Ball’s neighbours, who even sent him aerial photographs of the wounded victim.
The trial also presented compelling forensic evidence, including splinters found on Mr. Ball’s clothing and Southwood’s trainers, which matched those from the plank of wood used in the attack. The plank itself contained a small blood stain with DNA material linked to Mr. Ball, Southwood, and two unknown individuals.
During the sentencing hearing, prosecutor Mark Cotter KC revealed Southwood’s troubling history of 27 previous convictions, including assault occasioning actual bodily harm, possession of a bladed article, and battery. It highlighted a pattern of violence and weapon possession.
In a heart-wrenching victim personal statement, Mr. Ball’s sister, Michelle Lewis, expressed her devastation over losing her brother. She described the incident as haunting, leading to anxiety and emotional struggles for her and her family. She also expressed her disbelief and sadness that nobody came forward to assist her brother during the attack.
In mitigation, Southwood’s defence, Jonathan Rees KC, shed light on his client’s troubled past, including physical abuse during his school years and family struggles, which led to addiction issues. Despite overcoming some of these challenges, Southwood remained reliant on antidepressants due to a traumatic experience of witnessing a friend’s death in a car crash.
During the sentencing, Mr. Justice Griffiths acknowledged Mr. Ball’s difficult life and criminal past but emphasised that he was not a threat to Southwood during the attack. The judge condemned Southwood’s unprovoked act of cruelty and brutality against a defenceless victim.
Following the trial’s conclusion, detective superintendent Nick Wilkie praised the investigation team for gathering substantial evidence, leading to Southwood’s conviction. He emphasised the importance of relying on the justice system rather than taking the law into one’s own hands, highlighting that both lives were forever altered by this tragic incident.
In the end, Andrew Southwood received a life sentence with a minimum term of 20 years. However, no sentence can bring back Mr. Ball or ease the bereavement faced by his family. The court proceedings concluded with shouts of disagreement from the public gallery, reflecting the raw emotions surrounding the case. The tragic incident serves as a somber reminder of the devastating consequences of violence and vigilantism.