Killer who kicked disabled Sunderland man to death loses bid to be freed early

Brent Martin, who had learning difficulties, was kicked to death in 2007.
Brent Martin, who had learning difficulties, was kicked to death in 2007.
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A killer who kicked a disabled man to death over a £5 bet has had his bid for an early shot at parole rejected - after a top judge said he is still dangerous.

Marcus Marvin Miller, now 23, murdered 23-year-old Brent Martin in a savage attack on Sunderland’s Town End Farm estate in August 2007.

Substance abuse remains a problem, as does his violent reaction to perceived opposition.

Mr Justice Collins

He was jailed for life, with a recommendation that he serves at least 13 years, after pleading guilty at Newcastle Crown Court in January 2008.

His case was back before a judge in London today as Miller applied for a cut in the term to allow an earlier chance of release.

But the bid was thrown out by High Court judge Mr Justice Collins, after hearing of Miller’s continued drug-taking and violence in prison.

“He was a regular user of drugs and alcohol and this, coupled with his inability to control his anger, which led to violence, resulted in his involvement in the murder,” he said.

“Unfortunately, he has, while in custody, maintained use of prohibited substances, and as recently as October 2014 he was dismissed from the workshop he was attending because of use of drugs.

“Albeit no charge has followed, he was alleged to have been involved in a plot to kidnap a prisoner and assault a prison officer.”

The judge said Miller and two others were responsible for killing Mr Martin, who had a learning disability and psychiatric problems.

He was “attacked, tormented, humiliated and beaten” to death after a £5 bet between the three young boxers to see who could knock him out.

His lawyers argued before Mr Justice Collins that the 13-year minimum term should be cut because of the progress he has made in prison.

But the judge said that, although Miller has now recognised he was more than minimally involved, that was not enough to justify a cut in his term.

“As he has matured, it is to be expected that he may have made progress in dealing with his problems,” he said.

“But it is impossible to accept that his progress has been either exceptional or unforeseen.

“Substance abuse remains a problem, as does his violent reaction to perceived opposition.”

Miller can only be freed after serving his 13-year term if he is considered safe by the Parole Board.

Brent Martin’s mother Brenda has spoken of how she and her family have been left living a life sentence after the death of her son.

The 70-year-old said: “I think it’s wrong. Life should mean life, they pleaded guilty and they should serve life. It’s ruined my life. I used to be outgoing, now I don’t go out.

“If they ever got out, I couldn’t cope.

“I think about it every minute of every day, it’s terrible.

“If they got out before the end of their sentence, I couldn’t handle it, it affects the whole family.

“They were devastated about this last week, but they’re pleased today.

“It’s upsetting they can do that, it’s disgusting. They took a life and they could be out again. They got off lightly.

“I can’t look at my son, I just have a gravestone. We know he’s here with us.

“People think you learn to cope, but you can’t. You just can’t turn your head around and say what’s happened has happened.”

Brenda is mum to Brett’s twin sister Danielle, now 32, along with Angela, 50, Tracey, 51, Beverley, 49, and Alex, 48, and is a grandmother and greatgrandmother to 29.