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A total of 93 years for ruthless gang who murdered antiques dealer

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Murder gang membersGang members: Zac Cowdrey (24), Harvey Munford (23), Damien Krafft (27), Simon Penton (43)

A ruthless gang of burglars who targeted an antiques dealer have been jailed after he was bound, beaten and burned in his home.

Zac Cowdrey, 24, and Harvey Munford, 23, callously left Michael Griffiths tied up inside his home after torturing him to find out where he kept his diamonds.

Cowdrey and Munford were yesterday both convicted of Mr Griffiths’ murder and jailed for 32 years each.

Targeted The gang’s mastermind Simon Penton, 43, was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 26 years. He was ordered to serve a minimum of 13 years.

With his moustache and quirky cravat, Michael Griffiths, 59, was instantly recognisable.

Michael Griffiths, 59Michael Griffiths, 59

He lived alone but was sociable and friendly and regularly appeared on TV’s Bargain Hunt. He was particularly well-known in the antiques world and ultimately that made him a target.

Mr Griffiths was found in the burnt out remains of his home in Glebe Close, Fernhurst.

Mr Griffiths, who lived alone, had been attacked by burglars looking for a stash of diamonds worth £40,000.

The court heard how Mr Griffiths was subjected to “violence and humiliation” before he was killed, his body left to burn with his home.

At Hove Crown Court yesterday, Zac Cowdrey, from Staines, and Harvey Munford, also from Staines, were each given life sentences.

Judge Michael Lawson QC said the killers showed “inhumanity” and “displayed a ready willingness to inflict distress”.

He added: “We have not heard, and nor do we expect to hear, any genuine showing of remorse.”

He also described how Mr Griffiths was “hogtied in an undignified fashion so force could be exerted on him”.

Munford and Penton, also from Staines, also pleaded guilty to four counts of conspiracy to burgle and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Cowdrey also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to burgle and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Damien Krafft, 27, from Shepperton, Middlesex, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to burgle but was found not guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

He received a three year prison sentence.

Crime sceneBurnt out remains of crime scene

Detective Chief Inspector Jeff Riley, who led the hunt for Mr Griffiths’ killers, made a statement about the case.

He said: “I am extremely pleased that those responsible for the brutal murder of Michael Griffiths have now been rightly convicted.

“The investigation into his death was difficult and complex.

Assault “It was made even more so by the cold and calculated attempts of those responsible to destroy any available forensic evidence by means of fire.

“Michael was deliberately targeted by this ruthless gang of criminals for the contents of his life’s work.

“They went to extraordinary lengths: they did research on the internet to locate him, they conducted reconnaissance on his home making a number of trips to Fernhurst, they also attempted to force their way in by purporting to be police officers on the day preceding his death. He was subjected to a prolonged and serious assault that ended in him losing his life.

“Rarely have I witnessed such callous disregard for life.

“During the trial, absolutely no remorse was shown by any members of the group for their shocking behaviour and actions.”

Kerry Rudder, 37, was found not guilty of murder and perverting the course of justice, but was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to burgle – both unrelated to the burglary in which Mr Griffiths was killed. She was jailed for three years John Bartholomew, 72, Portsmouth, was found not guilty on all counts of murder, manslaughter, burglary and conspiracy to burgle.

Rebecca Rogers, 39, from Shepperton, who faced one charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, was found not guilty.

SourceThe Argus.

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