Michael Burrows QC and Mark Heywood QC Prosecute Operation Usk trial

Thu, 19 Apr 2012

THREE Coventry men who killed a scrap metal dealer over a huge drug debt have been jailed for a total of 50 years.
 
Kevin Houston, James Doe and Matthew Taylor all went to a travellers site in Evesham in July 2009 where Jesse Richards was brutally beaten and thrown in the back of a van.
 
His body was transported from the site to a location in Coventry but hasn’t been seen since.
 
Police have carried out excavations in Druid Close, Stoke, Coventry; Breach Oak Lane, Corley; and in a field next to Chesterton Windmill, near Leamington with no success.
 
Yesterday at Birmingham Crown Court Judge John Royce branded Houston, 50, of Longford Road, Longford, a “devious liar” jailing him for 19 years.
 
The former boxing promoter was owed £1million by Mr Richards and had gone to the site to try and reclaim the debt.
 
But instead he was at the forefront of the attack, striking Mr Richards a number of times and moving his body into a van.
 
He then sat in the rear of the vehicle with Mr Richards while he fought for his life.
 
Halfway through the trial Houston – serving a sentence for a previous offence – pleaded guilty to manslaughter and obstructing a coroner. Days later he changed his mind about the plea and attempted to alter it again.
 
During a mini-hearing a number of Houston’s fellow prison inmates were called to back up his claim that he was forced into changing his plea by co-defendant Taylor, aged 29, of Wyken Way, Stoke Heath, and his legal team.
 
But the move backfired when one fellow inmate told Judge Royce that Houston was a very dangerous man, and shouldn’t be released.
 
The application was thrown out and Houston was eventually jailed for 19 years. He will have to prove to a parole board that he isn’t a danger to the public before he is released.
 
Judge Royce said: “You are prepared to say almost anything to get yourself off the hook.
 
 
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