Neighbours of pensioner found beaten to death recall seeing 'unkempt' man wandering in tower block

Pensioners living in the block of flats where Barry Johnson was killed in his own home have described seeing an "unkempt" stranger repeatedly trying to gain entry.

Dean Court (Picture: Google)
Dean Court (Picture: Google)

Mr Johnson, 67, lived alone in his Brierley Hill flat and was found dead on August 25, 2021, having been brutally attacked.

Jay Lee Gallier, 33, of Dudley, is accused of murdering Mr Johnson after entering the block when another resident opened the front door to leave. Wolverhampton Crown Court was shown CCTV of him wandering around The Promenade complex on August 23, 2021.

Dean Court resident Patrick Griffiths confronted Gallier when he appeared on the landing outside his flat.

He said: "I saw a male acting suspicious on Monday, August 23. Between 2pm and 3pm I was cleaning my wife's mobility scooter and I heard the door close for the lift.

"I saw a quick glimpse of an unkempt male. I have lived here for ten years and know all the residents by sight, and I did not recognise him.

"I got up and called after him and asked him if he had the right floor and who was he looking for. He went down the flight of stairs and I followed him."

He added: "As I followed him I noticed he was unkempt, had dirty trainers, dark grey bottoms, his hood was covering most of his face.

"All I could see his lower jaw, he was a white male, his skin colour was grey like someone who takes drugs. I kept following him, keeping about two flights of stairs behind him and asking him questions.

"I could see he was getting agitated as I was speaking to him and he went quicker and quicker. What I did notice was that he was carrying a pair of what looked like dark blue women's slippers.

"I have not seen him before or since."

Fellow Dean Court resident Ann Davies, 81, left a pair of blue velvet slippers in the foyer in case any other resident wanted them before she threw them away.

She noticed they had been taken a few days later, and also described a brush with Gallier.

She said: "When I arrived back from shopping, there was a man trying to get in. He said 'I am buzzing my friend but he is not answering' so I said he must not be in, and would not let him in. I left him standing outside.

"I thought he appeared drunk, he smelt of alcohol and had a local Black Country accent. I was never closer than three feet to him, I have not seen him before or since."

Barry's younger brother John found him lying dead in his flat after worrying when he could not get through on the phone.

He said: "Barry was very much a loner, he never got married and did not have any friends. He was always very quiet. But he was security-conscious.

"I kept on calling him but there was no answer and I was getting worried so I popped down to Dean Court.

"I knocked on the door and again there was no answer, I shouted through the letterbox. I was going to leave but decided to try the door handle, to my shock it opened.

"I walked and saw Barry on the floor. I immediately phoned the 999. I could see he was bleeding from the head and there was blood on the wall where he was lying."

He added: "The police and paramedics arrived, sadly they told me Barry had passed away and they were treating it as suspicious.

"One thing stood out, a pair of ladies slippers in the hallway, I thought they could even have been my late mother's."

He added: "I have no idea why anyone would want to attack Barry, he was quiet and kept himself to himself."

Gallier, of Salop Street, in Dudley, denies murdering Mr Johnson.

The trial continues.

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