Torment of Tubby Tommy; He killed his best pal after years of taunts over his appearance. Now his mother reveals the heartbreaking story of a boy who turned bad..
THEY could be any teenage friends doing what they love best - playing music together in their band.
Except that one of the boys in this photograph would go on to brutally beat the other to death.
The only known picture of bespectacled, tubby Tommy Kimpton with his victim Ben Williams surfaced yesterday as his mother described the hidden tension between the pair.
Devastated Pauline Kimpton, speaking to the Mirror as her son began a jail sentence, said: "My boy is not a cold-blooded killer - just a tormented young man."
Kimpton's unlikely friendship with Williams bordered on hero-worship, but behind a shared interest in their band, the Not So Red Hot Chili Peppers, were deep feelings of resentment which were soon to reach boiling point.
Kimpton's mum Pauline, 54, sat through the 10-day trial at Truro crown court as details of the extent to which he had suffered taunts about his weight, glasses, big ears and lack of success with girls was exposed.
The jury heard of an incident in which Kimpton was given a glass of urine to drink at a party.
Even now she torments herself that she could have done more to protect her son.
She said: "Just because he looked a little different from his classmates didn't give them the excuse to treat Tommy like that.
"If people treated me like that I wouldn't call them friends.
"I wish he'd been able to tell me how unhappy he was.
"Maybe if he hadn't bottled it all up inside we could have stopped this awful tragedy.
"I knew he was teased about his weight, asthma and thick glasses, but I had no idea how bad the bullying was until I heard it in court. I'm extremely angry and upset. Fancy making Tommy drink urine, it's disgusting."
Old photographs of Kimpton show a chubby child with a mop of unruly brown hair and thick glasses. There is little doubt his awkward looks quickly singled him out for attention.
"When Tommy was growing up he was a happy boy. He'd race around the garden on his scooter and play with the other kids," said Pauline as she recalled how the years of abuse began.
"When he was seven he developed asthma and had to take his inhaler from a large bowl. He was embarrassed to do that in front of his friends, but I told him it would be OK.
"When he was 11 his grandma died and he was very upset. His friends teased him for crying at school.
"I knew he was getting teased but I thought it was just kids' stuff, told him to ignore it. A couple of times he came home with bruises. He said they were from football. I believed him, but looking back the bullying must have been physical."
Pauline, who lives in a neat terraced house in Penryn, Cornwall, says her son was let down by his school. "When Tommy confided in a teacher nothing was done," she said. "It makes me sick. My son plucked up courage to ask for help but didn't get any. That makes the teachers as bad as the bullies.
"I want it to be made clear I'm not angry at Ben. He was never the ringleader, he was closer to Tommy than most. Ben was always round. When Tommy formed a band he asked Ben to be the singer."
But their shared love of music, perhaps the only passion that enabled Kimpton to fit in with his popular friend, was not enough to save them.
On May 20 last year, Kimpton met Ben and others in the Cross Keys pub in Penryn. They spent the night teasing him.
Kimpton later invited Ben back to the house he lived in with his mother. As they sat in his room listening to music, drunk Kimpton smashed a pool cue over his friend's head 12 times with "very considerable force".
Weeping, Kimpton's mother Pauline said: "As far as I know Ben never teased Tommy when they were on their own, until that night. Perhaps that tipped Tommy over the edge."
Kimpton was cleared of murder as a jury accepted his plea of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He was sentenced to custody for life and will serve at least four years. The Parole Board will decide when he is fit for release.
Tommy's dad Ross, an alcoholic, died while his son was awaiting trial. The court was told Mrs Kimpton also had a drink problem.
Whatever the demons that drove Kimpton to kill, he is left to contemplate his crime at Exeter adult prison while the Home Office decides where he should serve his sentence.
Ironically, the teenager haunted by taunts about his weight has lost 4st in the 18 months he was on remand.
KILLER; Guitarist Kimpton formed band; VICTIM; Ben became the lead singer; TENSION: Killer Kimpton; REGRETS: Pauline Kimpton; POPULAR: Friend Ben; EXCLUSIVE
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Nov 11, 2005|
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