Jesse Richards Murder
Five jailed over traveller murder

By Gary Smee 19/04 Updated: 19/04 12:41

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Buy photos » Kevin Houston was told by the judge he is a danger to the public and jailed for 19 years. (s)

FIVE men have been jailed for a total of almost 60 years in connection with the death of a father who was killed in the Vale because of a drugs debt.

Traveller Jesse Richards was attacked and killed in the Cleeve Prior area in July 2009 before his body was taken to Warwickshire to be disposed of.

But the 40-year-old's body has never been found and there is still a reward of £10,000 on offer for anyone who can help find it.

The five charged with Mr Richards' murder, Kevin Houston, James Doe, Joseph Doe, Matthew Taylor and David Butler, were all sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on Wednesday (April 18).

Houston pleaded guilty to manslaughter and obstructing a coroner for which he was given 19 year and six year six month sentences respectively. The terms will run concurrently meaning his sentence is 19 years in total.

The 50-year-old from Coventry was told by the judge, the Honourable Mr Justice Royce, he was a danger to the public and must serve a minimum of nine and a half years in prison before he can be considered for parole.

James Doe also pleaded guilty to manslaughter for which he was given 17 years and a separate blackmail charge for which he was given a five year term, both to run concurrently.

Doe was also given 18 months in prison for burglary which he must serve on top. The 38-year-old went on the run from police before he was arrested in the Southport area last April.

Matthew Taylor, 29, pleaded not guilty to murder but was convicted of manslaughter last month and jailed for 13 years.

David Butler, 26, was sentenced to four years after pleading guilty to obstructing a coroner and Joseph Doe pleaded guilty to assisting James Doe, his brother, and was jailed for four years.

Jonathan Calcott and Martin Sutherland had charges of perverting the course of justice against them dropped last week.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Loader, who led the investigation for West Mercia Police, said: "This was a brutal attack on an unarmed, passive, family man over a drugs debt.

"We are pleased these men have been convicted of this terrible crime but it is not a day for celebration. We still need to find Jesse’s body and his family cannot have a funeral and lay him to rest until we do.

"We would appeal to the public for any information which may help us locate Jesse and the large police reward remains on offer. Jesse’s children need to have that closure and peace of mind.

"This has been a complex and challenging investigation spanning more than two years involving offenders from several different parts of the country. I would like to thank our colleagues at Warwickshire Police, Gwent Police and the Crown Prosecution Service for their assistance during the inquiry."

Anyone with information about where the body of Jesse Richards is should ring the 101 non emergency number or independent charity Crimestoppers 0800 555111.

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Buy photos» Matthew Taylor was jailed for 13 years. (s)

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Buy photos» Joseph Doe will spend four years behind bars. (s)

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Buy photos» James Doe was sentenced to 17 years in prison. (s)

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Buy photos» David Butler was jailed for four years. (s)

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