Two convicted in Crawley murder investigation

Kaydon Prior and Jason Curtis

Two men have been convicted of murder after a man was fatally stabbed in Crawley.

Harrison Tomkins, 25, suffered multiple stab wounds during the assault at a block of flats in Arthur Road at around 5.30am on Sunday 13 August last year.

Police and paramedics were on the scene within minutes and performed emergency first aid but despite their best efforts, Harrison, a lifeguard from Crawley, tragically died.

At Chichester Crown Court on Friday 9 February, Kaydon Prior, 23, of Hazelwick Avenue, Crawley, and Jason Curtis, 22, of Lairdale Road, Lambeth, London, were found guilty of his murder following a four-week trial.

The pair were also found guilty of being in possession of an offensive weapon and Prior was additionally found guilty of common assault.

The court heard how Prior and Curtis had been out in Chelsea, London, to celebrate Curtis’ 22nd birthday, but made their way back to Crawley at around 1.30am.

During the journey, they found out Prior’s ex-girlfriend was out in Crawley town centre with another man. That man being Harrison Tomkins.

Prior and Curtis were then seen on CCTV outside Medusa cocktail bar at 3am looking for her, before getting a taxi to her flat in Arthur Road.

The pair gained entry to the communal area and heard her and Harrison inside the flat, prompting Prior to call for a taxi to go to his home address in Hazelwick Road. Curtis stayed behind.

Prior was seen on CCTV going into his flat and coming back out just four minutes later. He then returned to Arthur Road in the same taxi.

Prosecution argued that Prior returned home to get a key to his ex-girlfriend's flat and a knife in order to carry out the attack on Harrison, who was not known to him, and that he left Curtis watching the address.

At 5.30am, Prior and Curtis burst into Prior’s ex-girlfriend’s flat. Seconds later, Harrison was fatally stabbed multiple times.

A major search operation was launched by the Surrey and Sussex Police Major Crime Team, including the use of a drone, and Curtis was found hiding in bushes nearby.

During his arrest, he said to an officer: “Who’s been murdered? I’ve been on a night out as it’s my birthday.”

Shortly after, Prior was arrested at his home address and the pair were later charged and remanded in custody.

Following conviction, Harrison's family issued the following statement: “As a family, we are pleased with this result and feel justice has been served.

“Harrison hasn’t got a voice today, so we will speak on behalf of him.

“Firstly, we would like to thank Sussex Police and the Crown Prosecution Service for their fast-moving investigation, which has led to today’s result.

“Thank you also to our Family Liaison Officers, the ambulance service, the numerous witnesses and the jury for reaching their verdict today. And to all our family and friends who have supported us through such a horrific time.

“Harrison was innocent in all of this, taken by surprise and killed as he laid in bed, with no time to defend himself.

“We knew our son and he didn’t move in any of these circles or know this way of life.

“We were an amazing family, completely content, loving, supportive and protective. Except in August last year our family was destroyed that fateful day - the day I could not protect my son.

“Harrison, our first born son and brother to his two adoring sisters was just the greatest, he saw the best in everyone he met. He was a lover of life.

“Nothing said or done can help justify this senseless loss of life.

“Going through this trial has been as traumatic as the day we were told Harrison had been killed. We have had to relive it all over again, while listening to Prior and Curtis’ lies throughout.

"Since the omission of any remorse and that my son was murdered whilst asleep, my only hope is they serve the maximum sentence possible.

“They have not just changed my life for the worse, but so many people from my family and close friends, and I have to ask ‘was it worth it?’”

Case Officer Detective Police Constable Elliott Lander, of the Major Crime Team, said: “I am pleased that we have been able to get the justice that Harrison richly deserves today.

“I never got to meet Harrison, but I have learned so much about him and have seen how greatly loved he was by all who knew him.

"Harrison was killed in a frenzied attack that he had no chance to defend himself from. Prior and Curtis will both rightly now have to live with the devastating consequences of their actions for a considerable period of their lives in prison.

“On behalf of Harrison and all his family and friends, I'd like to thank those who came forward and supported our investigation.”

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Emma Vickers, of the Major Crime Team, said: “I echo Detective Police Constable Elliott Lander and would like to add how incredible Harrison’s family have been throughout what has been a terrible time for them.

“I commend them for the way they have conducted themselves and their incredible bravery throughout the trial.

“This was a horrendous and unproved attack on a young man who had simply been on a night out enjoying himself.

“Justice has been served today and our thoughts very much remain with Harrison and his family during this incredibly distressing time.”

Prior and Curtis are due to be sentenced on 23 April.

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