‘Hardest man in town’ denies murdering Ulster-born soldier

Private Matthew Boyd spent his early years in Northern Ireland
Private Matthew Boyd spent his early years in Northern Ireland

An Ulster-born soldier on a night out was murdered by a stranger who boasted he was the “hardest man” in the town hours earlier, a court heard.

Private Matthew Boyd, 20, who served with the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, died following the incident in the barracks town of Brecon, South Wales, on May 8.

Pte Boyd lived in Gibraltar but was originally from Northern Ireland and spent his early years in Carrickfergus.

Cardiff Crown Court heard Pte Boyd was chased, punched to the ground and beaten before his body was dragged and dumped in the road.

Jake Vallely, 24, accepts punching Pte Boyd but denies murdering him. His friend Aaeron Evans, 23, denies manslaughter.

Prosecutor 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.

“Together with his friend, Aaeron Evans, he chased and then assaulted 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 with his friend Mr Evans.”

In police interview, Vallely accepted chasing and punching Pte Boyd while Evans denied any part in the attack, Mr Quinlan said.

The jury was told Pte Boyd was a soldier with the Army and had served with the Royal Gibraltar Regiment for years before his death.

Following tours in Northern Ireland, Pte Boyd was sent to Brecon, arriving 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 in Brecon at about 12.19am on May 8. Vallely and Evans were both at the bar, the court heard.

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

“Punching him, going to the ground and then him continuing to hit him remorselessly when he was on the ground,” he added.

“It shows him dragging him to the middle of the road and then dumping him before running off. Either dead or dying.”

The court heard Vallely, an amateur boxer, and Evans were both from Brecon and had played football together on May 7.

A pathologist found Pte Boyd died as a result of blunt force injuries.

Mr Quinlan said Vallely sent text messages to friends in the hours after the incident, after hearing that emergency services were at the scene.

He allegedly wrote: “But the little fight we had surely couldn’t warrant that?

“The only thing I can think is he’s fallen and hit his head or got run over.

“Is there CCTV down that street?

“I just ragged him on the floor a bit. Nothing serious. Wasn’t even a beating like.”

The court heard Vallely later handed himself in at a police station.

Officers recovered his white polo shirt, stained with blood from Vallely and Pte Boyd, from the gallery where he worked.

Pte Boyd’s blood was also found on a pair of Vallely’s trainers.