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Man jailed for more than 20 years for Woking manslaughter and burglaries

News   •   Aug 09, 2019 14:33 BST

A man has been sentenced to more than 20 years in prison in relation to the manslaughter of an elderly woman who died days after a robbery at her home in Woking.

Johnny Brazil pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Joyce Burgess who he robbed at her home in Loop Road on July 7, 2018 and was sentenced for that and other matters at Guildford Crown Court today (August 9). In total he received a 20 year and three month sentence with an extended release period of three years.

The 27-year-old was brought to justice following key forensic evidence recovered, including a cigarette butt found in the street, CCTV footage and crucial witness testimony. A public appeal following the initial attack identified other offences he’d committed, and led officers to Leeds in Yorkshire where he was arrested.

Investigating officer Detective Constable Alexis Batty said: “This has been a lengthy and complex case to bring to court and I hope today’s sentencing will finally bring some closure for Joyce’s family who have borne the burden of this case for more than a year now.

“Johnny Brazil was thief whose actions robbed a family of a loved mother and he will now pay the price for his crimes with a hefty prison sentence.

“Given the severity of what he did we were determined to prove that this wasn’t just a robbery and an assault and are pleased that in June he finally pleaded guilty to the charge of manslaughter.”

Brazil was initially charged with causing grievous bodily harm in relation to the attack on Mrs Burgess, but this was replaced with manslaughter due to expert medical evidence.

Brazil was initially arrested on July 17 following matching descriptions given by victims. He was however released under investigation. Further evidence, including positive identification by victims and a DNA match that put him at the scene of the Loop Road robbery came to light on July 20 and Brazil was sought for re-arrest but had fled the area. He was arrested in Leeds, Yorkshire on July 31.
He pleaded guilty to the offences when he appeared at Guildford Crown Court on Friday, June 21.

Jill Beale, from the CPS, said: “Through detailed medical evidence showing a link between the assault and her death in hospital three days later, the CPS was able to build a strong enough case against the defendant that he eventually pleaded guilty to Joyce’s manslaughter.

“Brazil made a point of often targeting vulnerable elderly victims in their own homes, resorting to violence where he met any resistance. “Tragically, this led to Joyce’s death, with medical experts determining that her condition had worsened significantly as a result of the physical and emotional trauma she suffered in the attack.

“We hope that today’s sentencing brings some comfort to Joyce’s family and to Brazil’s other victims, many of whom were left terrified after being robbed or burgled by him.”

Mrs Burgess' son Ian said, after Brazil pleaded guilty in June: "My mother was a wonderful person who was ready to help anybody in need.

"On that day back in July 2018 she was cruelly betrayed by Johnny Brazil who she was fetching a glass of water for, and subsequently died in hospital as a result of his actions.

"Her death has rocked the family and robbed us of our family home that we have not been able to return to since this happened, because of what happened there.

"I will never understand why my mother lost her life in a place she should have been safe.

"I hope when sentencing the judge imposes as long a sentence as possible, so he cannot be a danger to anybody else."

Offences – listed chronologically

Robbery - Woodcotes Road, Epsom, June 30 at 4.37pm.

He entered the front door of a property through an unlocked door. The victim, an 81-year-old woman was in her bedroom when she saw Brazil. She told him to go. He grabbed her handbag which was hanging on the door. Brazil grabbed the victim by her wrists and pushed her to the floor. The victim was unable to call police straight away as she was unable to get up.

Brazil was captured on CCTV in the area and was positively identified by the victim.

Robbery and manslaughter: Loop Road, Woking, July 7 – 5.54pm

Brazil approached Joyce Burgess’ front door owing to it being an extremely hot day and when confronted by Joyce Burgess, asked for a glass of water. As Mrs Burgess went to her kitchen, Brazil entered and picked up her handbag. Mrs Burgess struggled with Brazil and suffered significant arm injuries and bruises to her face. Mrs Burgess died aged 84 on July 10 in hospital.

Attempt burglary Balfour Avenue, Woking – July 8.

A 71-year-old woman reported that at 4.50am a man, Brazil, had opened a window in her bedroom and looked in. She disturbed him and he left.

Burglary - Honeypots Road, Woking – July 8

Entered during hours of darkness as 89-year-old woman was asleep. Access gained through bedroom toilet window. He took two handbags and two necklaces. CCTV footage shows Brazil walking along Honeypots Road at 4.44am.

Burglary - Howards Road, Woking – July 8

Report that at 6am a 96-year-old woman woke to see Brazil in her bedroom. The victim initially thought she was dreaming and returned to bed, but later that morning noticed her front door was open and upon hearing about the robbery in Loop Road, reported the incident. A box of sentimental jewellery was found to have been taken.

Burglary - Vicarage Road, July 8.

Handbag stolen from property in the early hours of the morning. CCTV shows Brazil outside the house at 3.06am, checking the doors, and also smoking a cigarette which he dropped in the street. He returned at 5.44am and enters through the front door, leaving with the handbag. The cigarette was recovered and DNA matched to Brazil. The handbag was handed into Woking Police Station later the same day having been found discarded and partially burned in The Terrace.

He was also charged with possession of an offensive weapon, criminal damage.

He also asked for two other burglaries to be taken into consideration – these took place on July 2 in Ruxley Park Lane, Epsom and on July 16 in Guildford Road, Leatherhead.