Former youth rugby star, 29, faces life in jail for murder

Former youth rugby star, 29, who brutally murdered pensioner, 76, ‘after agreeing to exchange sex for alcohol’ at man’s flat faces life in jail

  • Former Ospreys youth player Tom Carney, 29, murdered a pensioner in 2019
  • Swansea Crown Court heard Carney agreed to exchange sex for alcohol 
  • Later that night, Carney returned to David Phillips house and battered him 
  • Prosecutors said Phillips, 76, was left ‘unrecognisable’ following the fatal attack 

A one-time talented rugby player has been convicted of murdering a pensioner in a savage killing after going to his home to ‘exchange sex for alcohol’.

Former Ospreys youth player Tom Carney was behind a ‘vicious, sustained, and brutal attack’ on pensioner David Phillips who suffered 27 rib fractures. His head was left unrecognisable.

The body of 76-year-old Mr Phillips was found in his home in the Cimla area of Neath on Valentine’s Day 2019.

Former Ospreys youth player Tom Carney, 29, pictured, was convicted of murdering pensioner David Phillips, 76, at his home in Neath on St Valentine’s Day, 2019

Carney, pictured, claimed Mr Phillips had raped him before he inflicted catastrophic injuries on the pensioner 

Carney murdered the pensioner by repeatedly stamping on his head in a ‘violent rage’. The 29-year-old denied murder but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

On Tuesday his trial at Swansea Crown Court heard closing speeches from both the prosecution and defence barristers ahead of the jury being sent out to consider its verdict.

Prosecutors said Carney agreed to go to Mr Phillips’ flat to perform sexual favours in return for alcohol.

Prosecutor Patrick Harrington QC opened his speech by telling the jury: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, this is murder. Tomas Carney deliberately inflicted the most vicious, sustained, and brutal attack on his victim, and by so doing – in a controlled manner and fuelled by anger – chose to end another person’s life.’

Mr Harrington added: ‘He [Carney] does not seem to accept his culpability, seeing himself more as a victim than a killer. But he is a killer. He has only admitted what has been proved anyway.’

During his trial Mr Harrington told the jury: ‘The fact is Thomas Carney has thrown his life away. Thrown away a career as a rugby player where he could have achieved great things. He has the discomfort of knowing he is one of those “might-have-beens”..’

Carney maintained that Mr Phillips was his sponsor at Alcoholics Anonymous and had offered to help him after a relapse by weaning him off alcohol. The defendant said that once he got to the flat Mr Phillips ‘abused his trust’ by drugging and raping him.

Carney’s trial heard that on the evening of the killing Carney took a taxi from his home to Mr Phillips’s flat, pictured,  ‘to exchange favours of a sexual nature for drink’

But a jury rejected that explanation and on Thursday afternoon Carney, of Llys Dur, Morriston, was found guilty of murder. He will be sentenced next week.

Carney’s trial heard that on the evening of the killing Carney took a taxi from his home to Mr Phillips’s flat ‘to exchange favours of a sexual nature for drink’.

Mr Harrington said both men drank alcohol before Carney left the property only to return shortly afterwards in a ‘violent rage’ and smash his way in through the front door with a concrete garden ornament.

Mr Harrington said as he opened the prosecution case that once back inside the ground-floor flat Carney subjected Mr Phillips to an attack the savagery of which was ‘almost unbelievable’.

Some of the assault was witnessed through the window by a neighbour after her attention had been drawn by the noise. She described seeing the defendant repeatedly stamping and jumping on Mr Phillips’ head. 

A jury found Carney, of Morriston guilty of murder following a trial at Swansea Crown Court

Richard Jones, a Home Office forensic pathologist, told the trial he visited the property the following day and saw the body of the deceased lying on the floor of the front room. He noted his head was ‘grossly distorted’ and the left side of the face was ‘flattened’.

Dr Jones told the jury that subsequent CT scans at the University Hospital of Wales showed there had effectively been a ‘shattering of the facial bones’, meaning the face had lost its ‘integrity’, and this would have caused ‘uncontrollable bleeding into the airways’ which would have led to an inability to breathe.

The pathologist told the jury he had also found a broken bone in Mr Phillips’ neck, a fracture to the spine, a total of 27 rib fractures, and bruising to the genitals and pelvis area, the pattern of which suggested ‘focused, blunt impact or impacts to the genitals’.

Judge Paul Thomas QC said there is only one sentence for murder, that of life in prison, and the only question for him is how long the defendant must serve before he can apply for release.

The judge says he will sentence Carney next Thursday. 

Carney will be sentenced for murder at Swansea Crown Court next Thursday 

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