Cheltenham drug dealer jailed for 'claw hammer' murder

Lee McClatchley Image copyright Gloucestershire Police
Image caption Within minutes of the murder McClatchley sent texts offering the stolen cannabis for sale

A drug dealer who bludgeoned a 68-year-old man to death in order to steal his cannabis has been jailed for life.

Lee McClatchley, 29, who denied murdering Tony Swift, was ordered to serve a minimum of 26 years after a trial at Bristol Crown Court.

In sentencing, judge Mrs Justice Jefford said: "Mr Swift lost his life because you took a chance to increase your drug dealing for a few days."

The jury heard evidence indicating the victim was killed with a claw hammer.

'Extremely violent'

Mr Swift, who lived in Mendip House, Cheltenham, suffered at least 10 cuts and fractures to his skull in the attack.

The court heard McClatchley, of Cromwell Road in the town, was a drug dealer who owed money to various people.

He had gone to Mr Swift's house on October 26, 2015 intending to steal his cannabis.

"You had bludgeoned him to death, hitting him over the head with a claw hammer or something similar, and leaving him lying in a pool of blood," Mrs Justice Jefford told McClatchley.

"This was a vicious attack to enable you to steal drugs and saw you taking advantage of Tony Swift's trusting nature."

Image copyright Gloucestershire Police
Image caption Tony Swift died from head injuries on 26 October

McClatchley disposed of his bloodstained jeans and the murder weapon and within minutes of the killing had sent texts to around 20 of his customers offering the stolen drugs for sale.

He also settled debts with three people that afternoon.

Det Insp Richard Pegler of Gloucestershire Police, said McClatchley "had never explained what happened or shown any remorse" and tried to blame Mr Swift's son for the murder.

"It was not a pre-meditated attack but to hit somebody repeatedly with a claw hammer or something similar is extremely violent and aggressive.

"There's a sense of relief justice has been done for a good man who had supported many people and shown them a great deal of love over the years," he added.

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