Social Media

Friday, 02 December 2016

Killer facing life for 'sickening' murder of man with learning difficulties

Written by The Press Association

A man is facing a life sentence after being found guilty of murdering a disabled adult who was beaten for days, drugged and dumped by the side of a footpath.

Lee Irving, 24, was living with people he thought were his friends but they took advantage of his profound learning difficulties, stopping him from leaving after he suffered cruel and repeated attacks.

James Wheatley (botton, left), 29, of Studdon Walk in Kenton, Newcastle, was convicted of murder following a two-month trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

Barry Imray (botton, right), 35, was cleared of murder but convicted of causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult.

He had previously admitted perverting the course of justice by taking Mr Irving's body 800 metres in a pushchair and dumping it beside a footpath in plain view of dog walkers. He then rang 999 saying he had found a body.

Wheatley's mother Julie Mills (top, right), 51, also from Studdon Walk, and his girlfriend Nicole Lawrence (top, left), 21, of Morpeth, Northumberland, were convicted of causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

They will be sentenced on Friday by Mr Justice Soole.

The women, who had been on bail during the trial, were remanded in custody for their own safety.

There were cries of "Yes" and "Get in" from Mr Irving's family members in the public gallery as the foreman returned the guilty verdicts, while Wheatley, in a shirt and tie, scowled and looked furious.

LeeIrvingMurderMr Irving's badly beaten body was discovered on June 6 last year on a footbath beside the A1 at Fawdon, Newcastle.

A post-mortem revealed he had been severely beaten on at least two occasions and died as a result of his injuries.

They included 27 separate rib fractures, multiple bruises to his limbs and body, cuts and broken bones in his face.

Robert Smith QC, prosecuting, had told the jury: "The fractures had been caused by a combination of punching, kicking and stamping."

Traces of drugs including morphine were found in his system. He was sedated to mask his painful rib injuries and to prevent him from leaving the house.

Mr Irving (pictured, top), from Camperdown, East Denton, did not go out over a nine-day period and the defendants knew about the abuse he had suffered in that time.

Wheatley wrote a text to his girlfriend saying they would "hammer" Mr Irving's bank card to buy a "watch, beds, tellies, fridges, everything".

He sent another text after Mr Irving apparently wet his bed, saying he had "smashed Lee all over, should see his face. My God".

Mills texted someone else saying: "You want to see Lee. It's like a bloodbath. He is like an elephant man."

Outside court, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fairlamb said: "This has been a truly awful case and to watch the defendants show such little respect and remorse for Lee has been sickening. All Lee ever wanted was friendship."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2016, All Rights Reserved.