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Man jailed for killing brother and sister 29 years ago

|News, Violent crime

A man who killed an elderly brother and sister in 1993 has been sentenced to a minimum of 32 years in prison. 

Danville Neil, from Lewisham, broke into the Bethnal Green home of Anne Castle, known as Annie, and her brother William Bryan, known as Billy, on 22 August 1993.

Having found the couple in their home, Neil bound and assaulted them during his search for money and valuables.

He then smothered Mr Bryan, 71 at the time of the attack, causing cardiac arrest, while Mrs Castle, 74, died after she suffered a heart attack as a result of the ordeal. 

Following the killings, Neil fled the property leaving DNA evidence at the scene, including traces on the strap of Mr Bryan's binoculars which he had used to bind him.

However, forensic technology in 1993 was insufficiently advanced to enable the identification of the pair’s killer.

The case remained unsolved until the strap was resubmitted for analysis in 2017, and, with advances in DNA matching technology over the years, Neil’s DNA was successfully matched.

Neil, now 65, was subsequently arrested at his home on 1 October 2020.

Following a trial at the Central Criminal Court, he was found guilty of the murder of Mr Bryan and the manslaughter of Mrs Castle on 18 November 2022.

At a sentencing hearing on Friday, 25 November, Neil was given a minimum of 32 years for one count of murder, and a 16-year determinate sentence for one count of manslaughter.

Amee Patel, Senior Crown Prosecutor in the London Homicide Unit, said: “This was an appalling crime which caused enormous fear and upset within a close-knit community in Bethnal Green which, at that time, had been Annie and Billy’s home for many years.

“The sentence reflects the awful nature of his attack on two elderly people in their own home. Neil has at no time admitted his guilt in this matter and has shown no contrition since.

“Thanks must go to the police for their professionalism in identifying Neil, including those at the time of the original crime who diligently packaged all the material relating to the crime scene, enabling the prosecution to prove that Neil was, beyond reasonable doubt, the killer of Billy and Annie.

“I hope now that Neil has been sentenced, to what is almost certainly the rest of his life in prison, that Annie and Billy’s family have finally seen the justice they deserved.

“And finally, I hope the success of this case sends a clear message to offenders – while you may think you have gotten away with your crimes – advances in DNA technology means offenders will always be brought to justice wherever possible.”

Notes to editors

Danville Neil (DOB: 15/9/1957) was given a 32-year minimum sentence for murder; and a 16-year determinate sentence for manslaughter. 

Amee Patel is a CPS Senior Crown Prosecutor in the London Homicide Unit. 

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