Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Doncaster man jailed for killing stepfather

Jay Griffiths, Zena Hancock and Robert Danby
Image caption Zena Hancock and Robert Danby (right) pleaded guilty to helping Griffiths (left) flee Doncaster after the murder

A man has been jailed for life for murdering his stepfather at Christmas.

Jay Griffiths, 25, from Doncaster, strangled Andrew Massarella, 40, on Christmas Eve 2011, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

Mr Massarella's body was discovered after a fire broke out at his flat in Middleham Road, in Cantley, Doncaster.

Griffiths, who pleaded guilty to murder at a hearing last month, was told he must serve a minimum of 15 years in prison.

Image caption Andrew Massarella's body was discovered after a fire broke out at his flat

Robert Danby, 64, and 45-year-old Zena Hancock, both from Doncaster, were also jailed after admitting helping Griffiths flee the town shortly after the killing.

Danby was sentenced to two years in prison and Hancock to 19 months after pleading guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Following the sentencing Mr Massarella's parents Nick and Diane Massarella, sisters Louise and Maria and brother Richard said they had been left "devastated" by his death.

"Andrew was a much loved son, brother and uncle," they said.

'Fateful Christmas Eve'

"Our family were devastated when Andrew died. He had everything to live for.

"We will never understand why Jay Griffiths did what he did. He cannot begin to understand the loss that we feel."

Mr Massarella's body was found at his home in Callender Court by firefighters in the early hours of Christmas Eve.

Image caption The fire is believed to have been caused by a discarded cigarette

Speaking after sentencing, Det Supt Terry Mann said: "The fire damage caused to Andrew's flat made the assessment of the crime scene very difficult for our forensic teams and other specialists.

"The circumstances of that fateful Christmas Eve did not become clear until much later in the investigation.

"Extensive forensic tests and analysis showed the cause of death to be strangulation with a discarded cigarette being the probable cause of a slow-burning fire."

He added: "The family have remained determined for those responsible to appear in court and today they have had the satisfaction that justice has now been served."

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