Robert Beattie murder: Gang jailed over man's fire death

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image copyrightLancashire Police
image captionRobert Beattie was found with serious burns at his home in Skelmersdale

A drugs gang ringleader who doused a man in petrol and set him on fire at his home has been jailed.

Robert Beattie, 48, died two weeks after being found with serious burns in Skelmersdale in September 2019.

Connah Jenkinson, 26, of Liverpool, was found guilty of murder and arson and was sentenced at Preston Crown Court to life with a minimum term of 30 years.

John O'Brien and Joseph McEwan were jailed for 15 and 13 years respectively for manslaughter and arson.

image copyrightLancashire Police
image caption(L-R) Connah Jenkinson, John O'Brien and Joseph McEwan were jailed following a trial at Preston Crown Court

Lancashire Police said the attack came as a result of feuding gangs trying to "instil fear and command their dominance" in the drugs supply trade in Skelmersdale.

Before the trio attacked "vulnerable victim" Mr Beattie, they had started a deliberate fire at an address on Willow Hey in Skelmersdale late on the evening of 25 September.

The occupants, who had been selling drugs for the rival gang, escaped unhurt.

The men then went to Mr Beattie's flat in Waverley, Skelmersdale, where they forced their way inside and doused him and the property in petrol, police said.

Both he and his flat were then set on fire before the men fled the scene.

Mr Beattie sustained serious injuries and was taken to Whiston Hospital where he died two weeks later.

image copyrightLancashire Police
image captionThe fire damage to Robert Beattie's flat

Det Ch Insp Pauline Stables said Mr Beattie was "a vulnerable man who was the victim of a brutal, horrendous and violent attack which caused extensive and widespread burns".

"It is hard to think of a more horrific way to die," she said.

"The men convicted of this brutal murder travelled to Skelmersdale to carry out these offences with a complete disregard for human life and in an effort to intimidate and instil fear in our local vulnerable communities and establish a foothold dealing drugs."

Sentences

  • Connah Jenkinson, 26, of Kremlin Drive in Liverpool, was found guilty of murder and arson with intent and was sentenced to life with a minimum of 30 years
  • John O'Brien, 33, of Ingrave Road in Liverpool, was found guilty of manslaughter and arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered. He was sentenced to 15 years
  • Joseph McEwan, 20, of Damsire Close in Liverpool, was found guilty of manslaughter and arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered. He was sentenced to 13 years
  • Paul Hart, 34, of Skelmersdale, was acquitted of murder and arson with intent

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