‘Hardest man’ found guilty of NI-born soldier’s murder

Pte Matthew Boyd of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment spent his early years in Carrickfergus
Pte Matthew Boyd of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment spent his early years in Carrickfergus

A boxer who boasted that he was the “hardest man” in his town has been convicted of murdering an Ulster-born soldier on a night out.

Private Matthew Boyd, 20, of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, died in the barracks town of Brecon, South Wales, in the early hours of May 8.

Jake Vallely, 24, chased Pte Boyd, punched him to the ground and beat him before dragging his body and dumping it in the road.

The amateur boxer admitted hitting the soldier but denied murder. He was convicted of the charge following a trial at Cardiff Crown Court.

Pte Boyd lived in Gibraltar but spent his early years in Carrickfergus.

Vallely, of Pen-y-Bryn, Brecon, will be sentenced on December 8. His friend Aaeron Evans, 23, of Cradoc Close, Brecon, was acquitted of manslaughter.

During the trial, Christopher Quinlan QC, told the jury of nine men and three women: “Jake Vallely is the self-proclaimed hardest man in Brecon.

“That was how he described himself an hour or so before the attack that killed Mr Boyd.

“Mr Boyd was punched. He went to the ground and thereafter he was beaten until he moved no more.

“Mr Vallely then dragged and dumped his body and ran off. He ran back to the bar where he continued his night.”

The court heard that, following tours in Northern Ireland, Pte Boyd was sent to Brecon and arrived in the town on May 3 this year.

On the evening of May 7, he went out with fellow soldiers but became separated from them at about 11pm.

He arrived at the Cellar Bar, where Vallely and Evans were, at about 12.19am on May 8.

CCTV cameras later captured Vallely’s “sustained assault” of Pte Boyd in the street outside the bar, Mr Quinlan said.

“Vallely got the better of Mr Boyd,” he told the jury. “He drove him to the ground.

“Once he was on the ground Mr Boyd was no longer – if he had ever been – a threat to this man.

“Once down he was punched repeatedly. You could see Mr Vallely’s right arm moving like a piston up and down as he punched him.

“There was also movement of his right leg. He completely overpowered that man. He dragged his still motionless body across the road.

“It was sustained, repeated and unlawful violence delivered with intent to cause really serious harm.”

A member of the public discovered Pte Boyd’s body. He was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2.40am.

A post-mortem examination found Pte Boyd died as a result of blunt force injuries.