A MAN is facing a murder charge a year on from the death of former Trowbridge resident Paul Mills, who suffered serious injuries in a baseball bat attack in a layby 11 years ago.

Neil Sutherland, 34, of Kyte Way, Trowbridge, appeared at Winchester Crown Court on Wednesday (June 6) morning following the death of Mr Mills, 44, of Westlands, Heytesbury, in 2017.

Mr Mills was found dead on his bathroom floor by emergency services on March 2, 2017, after suffering from an epileptic fit, a condition which he had lived with ever since the attack near the former Axe and Cleaver pub in Southwick in July 2006.

Mr Mills was in a coma after the attack, suffered a fractured skull, bruising on the brain, a fractured eye socket and lost the ability to speak for two weeks.

It was in the ambulance on his way to hospital that Mr Mills

suffered the first of his epileptic seizures.

Wiltshire coroner David Ridley, who dealt with the case last year, referred Mr Mills’ death back to Wiltshire Police to investigate whether he had died as a result of his injuries.

At that time DCI Jim Taylor, who has been leading the investigation since Mr Mills’ death, said he was unsure if someone could be arrested for homicide so long after the original injury.

In a statement issued then, a Wiltshire Police spokesman said: “The general procedure would be the same as for any other investigation, case, or alleged crime the police look into. This case does have a certain historic factor, but we will treat it just like any other.

“We will work with the Crown Prosecution Service and a file of evidence will be submitted as soon as possible.”

After a year of further investigations, Sutherland was summonsed to Winchester Crown Court earlier this week.

Appearing before Judge Keith Cutler in court on Wednesday, Sutherland was charged with Mr Mills’ murder and granted unconditional bail until his next court appearance on August 3.

The court was told that at that hearing Sutherland will be asked to enter a guilty or not guilty plea.

Sutherland had family living in Southwick in 2006. Mr Mills lived for much of his life in Trowbridge, at one time in Francis Street.

He later moved to Heytesbury, where after his death a neighbour said: “He kept himself to himself but he always greeted you and was pleasant. He took a liking to my French bulldog Spud. It was sad to hear he died.”

A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said: “A man has appeared in court and been charged with the murder of a man who died in Warminster last March.

“Neil Sutherland, 34, of Kyte Way, Trowbridge, has been charged with the murder of Paul Mills.

“He appeared at Winchester Crown Court on Wednesday morning and has been released on unconditional bail.

“He will next appear at Winchester Crown Court on 3 August 2018.”