Four Liverpool men have been jailed for a combined total of 77 years for murdering a man and leaving his body in a burnt-out car after a drug shipment went missing.
Jamie Grimes, Darren Colecozy, Karl Kelly and Dylan Owen were all found guilty of the gangland murder of 54-year-old Joseph McKeever, whose body was found in a Ford Focus car on June 15.
The four men, working in tandem with fugitive Lee Knox, subjected McKeever to a torture deal lasting several hours across two separate venues, after a shipment of cannabis worth £130,000 disappeared.
The car was found abandoned in a field, just a few hundred yards from Liverpool's Anfield football stadium.
McKeever, also from Liverpool, had suffered two broken kneecaps as well as broken ribs, broken eye sockets and a severe head injury, and had been strangled with a ligature.
Grimes was found guilty of manslaughter, Colecozy and Kelly of manslaughter and Owen of assisting an offender who had committed murder. Grimes, Kelly and Colecozy were also guilty of false imprisonment.
Grimes was jailed for 27 years, while Colecozy and Kelly for 22 years each, and Owen for six years.
Plot gone wrong
In his sentencing remarks, judge William Davis said Grimes had plotted with McKeever to ship a large quantity of cannabis from Spain, using the latter's transport business as a front.
However the lorry carrying the cannabis was stopped at Newhaven and the drugs were seized. Although Grimes and another accomplice, Lee Knox, were told about the seizure, they believed McKeever had appropriated the drugs for his own use.
On June 14 Grimes, who also worked as a mechanic, teamed up with Knox and another man, identified as Wales, to lure McKeever to a container, which served as Grimes' business premises, and threaten him. McKeever told them they could find the drugs at a flat in Burscough, but he was still given what the judge described as a "severe beating" using weapons and kept captive.
Fellow dealers Kelly and Colecozy then took the victim to the latter's flat, where Knox, Wales and Grimes all joined them during the evening, having returned from a fruitless mission to Burscough. They inflicted a castastrophic brain injury on McKeever and strangled him, fracturing the cartilage around the voice box.
Grimes then visited his container and tried to hide the evidence of McKeever's torture with waste oil, while telling Owen to destroy McKeever's car, as well as the van used to take the victim to the flat. McKeever's body was put into the Ford Focus, which was subsequently parked in a field in Everton and set on fire.
Grimes and Knox subsequently fled to Spain, and although the former was arrested and extradited, the latter remains at large. The other three men involved were all arrested in the UK.