A boxer who boasted that he was the “hardest man” in his town has been jailed for life after murdering a soldier on a night out.
Private Matthew Boyd, 20, of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, died in the barracks town of Brecon, South Wales, in the early hours of May 8.
Jake Vallely, 24, chased Belfast-born Pte Boyd, punched him to the ground and beat him before dragging his body and dumping it in the road.
The amateur boxer admitted hitting the soldier but denied murder. He was convicted of the charge following a trial at Cardiff Crown Court.
Vallely, of Pen-y-Bryn, Brecon, was jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 16 years in prison.
Following the sentence, Detective Superintendent David Guiney of Dyfed-Powys Police, said: “Matthew Boyd was a young man enjoying a night out in Brecon with his friends.
“The violent attack he suffered, which resulted in his tragic death, was a despicable act and one that shocked the community of Brecon and Matthew’s military friends and colleagues.”
“I wish to extend my condolences to Matthew’s family. No prison sentence can bring him back, however I hope that the verdict does bring some form of justice and peace.”
During the trial, 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.
“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.”
The court heard that, following tours in Northern Ireland, Pte Boyd was sent to Brecon and arrived 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, where Vallely and Evans were, at about 12.19am on May 8.
CCTV cameras later captured Vallely’s “sustained assault” on Pte Boyd in the street outside the bar, Mr Quinlan said.
“Vallely got the better of Mr Boyd,” he told the jury. “He drove him to the ground.
“Once he was on the ground Mr Boyd was no longer - if he had ever been - a threat to this man.
“Once down he was punched repeatedly. You could see Mr Vallely’s right arm moving like a piston up and down as he punched him.
“There was also movement of his right leg. He completely overpowered that man. He dragged his still motionless body across the road.
“It was sustained, repeated and unlawful violence delivered with intent to cause really serious harm.”
A member of the public discovered Pte Boyd’s body. He was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2.40am. A post-mortem examination found Pte Boyd died as a result of blunt force injuries.
In a tribute issued after the sentencing, his family said: “Jake Vallely has created a void in our family that will never be filled.
“He has taken our son, brother, grandson and friend with no reason or excuse.
“No punishment will justify his actions as our son will not knock on our door again, and we will never be able to touch, feel, kiss or see him again.
“This unbearable pain is something we will have to live with for the rest of our lives.
“During this trial, it has been mentioned that Jake Vallely called himself the ‘hardest man in Brecon’ on the night that he murdered Matthew. He couldn’t have been more wrong.
“There has been such a massive outpouring of love from the community in Brecon towards our family, in our mind, those are the strongest people in Brecon, those who reject mindless violence and instead show compassion, love and respect for others.
“It is the rest of the community in Brecon who have shown the true colours of that town, a town which will always remain in our hearts.”