Devon

Men jailed for life for Exeter wheelie bin murder

Thomas Killen and Brett Edwards Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption Thomas Killen (left) and Brett Edwards have both been jailed for life with a minimum of 17 years

Two men have been jailed for killing a drug addicted former soldier whose body was found in a wheelie bin.

Thomas Killen, 33, and Brett Edwards, 37, were sentenced to life at Exeter Crown Court, with a minimum of 17 years, after being found guilty of murder.

They attacked James Woodhouse over an unpaid drug debt at a flat in Exeter on 11 November and left him for dead.

Six days later Edwards tried to dispose of his body using a stolen wheelie bin.

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Mr Woodhouse, who was a 30, had become homeless after developing a severe cocaine addiction.

Image copyright Devon & Cornwall Police
Image caption The body of James Woodhouse was found in a wheelie bin in Exeter

He owed £700 to Killen, of North Lawn Court, and more money to at least one other gang of drug dealers, the court heard.

There was said to be a bounty on his head which would be paid to anyone who could track him down and beat him up.

He was knocked unconscious during the punishment beating and died from an injury to his neck which he suffered as he fell over.

'Murky plot'

Six days later Edwards, of Okehampton Road, persuaded a friend to help him steal a commercial wheelie bin from sheds behind the St Thomas shopping precinct.

He wheeled it to the flat but was unable to get Mr Woodhouse's body fully inside.

Police were alerted by friends of Mr Woodhouse that he was missing, and a neighbour at the flat complained of a smell.

The body was found wrapped in a duvet, sealed with tape, and half in, half out of the bin.

Judge Sir John Royce told both men they had increased the misery of the victim's family by concealing the body for so long they were not allowed to view it.

He said: "You, Edwards, purported to be a friend of Mr Woodhouse. If ever there was a Judas in this murky plot, it was you. You lured him to your flat and betrayed him to Killen. You set him up.

"The two of you went there intent on violence. He must have been terrified and have realised you had betrayed him."

"This poor defenceless man stood no chance."

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