Notorious Brighton thug jailed for killing love rival

The Argus: Carlo Dawes Carlo Dawes

A father who brutally murdered a man after returning home to find him with his wife has been jailed for life.

Carlo Dawes, 35, attacked his wife Kayleigh Chessell and her lover Graeme Pethard with a vodka bottle before grabbing a kitchen knife and sinking the blade down through his neck and into his right lung.

With the knife still in his hand, he turned to his wife and shouted, “look what you made me do”, before fleeing their Taunton Road, Bevendean, flat.

The public gallery was packed with Dawes's friends and family as the jury of five women and six men returned their verdict.

The two week trial heard how Dawes and Ms Chessell had been married since 2007 and had two children.

They endured a “volatile” relationship and in the spring of this year were going through a particularly rough patch.

Around the same time, Ms Chessell met Mr Pethard, from Liverpool, through a Facebook remembrance page to a mutual friend, Dennis Blake.

In late April he travelled with friends to Brighton where he spent the days leading up to his death with Ms Chessell.

With Dawes supposedly out for the night on May 4, Ms Chessell invited Mr Pethard to stay. After a few drinks the pair fell asleep only waking when Dawes returned in the early hours.

He flew into a jealous rage, grabbing a vodka bottle and smashing it over both their heads. He repeatedly punched the still half-asleep victim before grabbing a kitchen knife and plunging the blade into the victim's neck.

Judge Richard Brown jailed Dawes for a minimum of 15 years for the murder. He said: “In killing Graeme Pethard not only have you taken his life but you have no doubt devastated the lives of his family and friends.”

Mr Pethard was a father of four daughters who described him as the “best daddy in the world”.

In a statement read out following the verdict, his second eldest, Kaitlyn, aged 11, said: “I'm writing to tell you about how that man who killed my dad has broke my heart.

"Why did it have to be him? Why my dad?

"I remember all the fun things we did like when we went to the park to feed the ducks.

“If that man never took away my dad I wouldn't be writing this and I would be with him.

“Rest in peace my angel, sleep well.”

Ten-year-old Libby, added: “I miss daddy so, so much. He was the best dad in the whole entire world.”

His youngest, Charlea, seven, said: “I miss my dad the most in the whole wide world and wish he could be by my side.”

His former fiancé and mother to his children, Andrea Miller, 31, added: “He was the most loving and caring person to all he knew. So many people had so much love for him.”

Her sister, Hayley Miller, who sat through the whole trial, said how she had moved in with the girls to try and fill the hole left by Graeme.

Describing the day she had to break the news to his children as “the hardest of her life”, she added: “People say as time goes by it gets easier. That's a lie.”

His mother and brother, through statements also read out in court, paid tribute to Mr Pethard. In particular, his dedicated care for his terminally ill father.

His mum, Linda, said: “Carlo Dawes has devastated our family. It is hard to put into words the feeling of loss and emptiness. Graeme will always be in our hearts.”

Speaking after the verdict, Detective Inspector Phil Mays, who lead the investigation, said: "I am satisfied that justice has been served for the family of Graeme Pethard.

“I hope that today's verdict will help to give them some form of closure.

"Carlo Dawes fled the scene of the murder but then hid for several days until he was arrested. By not pleading guilty he put both the family of Mr Pethard and his ex-partner Ms Chessell, through the stressful and long drawn out process of a trial.

"I would like to thank the local Bevendean community who were directly affected by this incident, for their cooperation throughout the investigation."

 

A history of violence

“Are they going to have to kill someone before a proper sentence is handed out?

“If they’d had a knife, I wouldn’t be here.”

These were the words of Cliff Johnson in 2002, after he suffered a terrible beating at the hands of Carlo Dawes.

Today, his words take on a chilling significance. But perhaps it was always going to end this way for Carlo.

The family name has become associated in Moulsecoomb with crimes ranging from anti-social behaviour to robbery and violence.

Carlo found himself in court for robbery and grievous bodily harm in the late 1990s.

In 2001 Brighton County Court ordered that he, his younger brother Gary and his mother, Angela Cutting, should be evicted from their council home in Newick Road.

At the age of 25, Carlo was sent down for three years after he and five others beat Cliff Johnson to a pulp in Goodwood Way, Moulsecoomb.

Mr Johnson spoke of his disgust at Dawes’s sentence, saying: “He’ll be out in just over a year . . . I was left in the street for dead. Some people thought I was.”

In fact, Carlo served two years before his release on licence – only to breach the conditions of that release. A court ordered his return to prison at Christmas, 2004 – but he could not be found.

It was only when they offered a £500 reward the following June that an Argus reader tipped them off and he was arrested at a Portslade flat.

As he was led away, he remarked to officers: “What’s all this stuff about me in The Argus – it was a bit over the top, wasn’t it?”

Brother Gary had forged himself a reputation at the tender age of 15, when in 2001 he became the first person in Brighton to get an anti-social behaviour order.

He was described in court as “a young man who has caused considerable difficulties on the estate and the surrounding area.”

He was sentenced to 12 months in prison only this August, admitting an affray in Madeira Drive, when he attacked three men in a car over a drug deal. His previous convictions included robbery and affray.

There are other sides to Carlo than the capacity for violence that made him a murderer.

In 2008 he was pictured with his son in an Argus parks football feature on his Sunday League team Goldstone Athletic. The team joshed that Carlo was a stunt double for Mini Me in the Austin Powers films.

After his arrest for killing Mr Pethard, he left messages on Facebook inviting people to write to him at Lewes Prison – “and especially u sexylady’s”.

But later that day he wrote: “Miss my boys so much really want to c them love u all so much xxx”.

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