Life sentence for tenant who beheaded landlord in rent row
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Legal
A tenant who beheaded his landlord during a dispute over rent has been given a minimum sentence of 22 years.
Karl Bestford stabbed Simon Meech 11 times before decapitating him with a kitchen knife while he was still alive.
Newcastle Crown Court heard that Mr Meech drove to meet Bestford at the flat he rented to him in Rayleigh Grove, Gateshead on July 28 2012.
The meeting was arranged because the tenant had failed to pay his rent for around seven months.
The trial was told that Bestford launched a knife attack against Mr Meech after he'd entered the flat, partially severing his head in the process.
The killer then wrapped the body in a bin liner in an effort to dispose of it.
However, he gave up and left the scene in Mr Meech's car. Shortly aftwards he pulled into a layby and phoned police to confess to the murder.
Bestford, 35, claimed in court that he acted in self-defence after Mr Meech had attacked him.
The murderer, who owed Mr Meech £2,765 in unpaid rent, described his victim as "one of the nicest people I've ever met".
The landlord owned eight premises in the North East and was described as a "model landlord" by his other tenants.
In a statement, Mr Meech's family said: "Simon was an incredible man, so deeply loved by all his family and friends.
"Our loss of him in July 2012 completely devastated our lives and left us utterly heartbroken.
"We would like to thank everyone who has, and continues to support us through this horrendous time, as well as Northumbria Police who have shown incredible professionalism and compassion towards the case and our family.
"We have been left with such a painful emptiness in our lives that anyone who knew Simon would know the extent of.
"Simon's children have been robbed of the most wonderful father.To us this is far and above the most painful and tragic part of our loss."
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Young, who led the investigation, said: "This was a savage attack on a respectable member of the community who was simply going about his business.
"A dedicated team of detectives carried out a detailed investigation and this conviction means a dangerous and violent man will be off the streets for a considerable time.
"Our thoughts remain with Mr Meech’s family and friends who have shown great dignity throughout the investigation and I would like to thank them for their assistance."