Tyne & Wear

Gateshead head-severing: Karl Bestford jailed for murder

Karl Bestford
Image caption Bestford had claimed Mr Meecher pulled a knife on him

A man who tried to cut his landlord's head off in a row over rent arrears has been jailed for life for his murder.

Ex-abattoir worker Karl Bestford stabbed and mutilated Simon Meech, 46, after inviting him round to his flat in Gateshead, on 28 July last year.

The 35-year-old had denied murder but was found guilty by a jury, at Newcastle Crown Court.

He was ordered to serve a minimum of 22 years, after "partially severing" his victim's head at the flat in Bensham.

Bestford had told the court Mr Meech pulled a knife on him during the meeting at the Rayleigh Grove flat.

Northumbria Police welcomed the sentence and said a "dangerous and violent" man was "off the streets".

'Great dignity'

Det Chief Insp Paul Young, who led the murder inquiry, said: "This was a savage attack on a respectable member of the community who was simply going about his business.

"A dedicated team of detectives carried out a detailed investigation and this conviction means a dangerous and violent man will be off the streets for a considerable time.

"Our thoughts remain with Mr Meech's family and friends who have shown great dignity throughout the investigation."

After the hearing Mr Meech's family released a tribute to a "loving father".

"Simon was an incredible man, so deeply loved by all his family and friends," they said.

"Our loss of him completely devastated our lives and left us utterly heartbroken.

"We would like to thank everyone who has, and continues to support us through this horrendous time.

"Simon's children have been robbed of the most wonderful father - to us this is far and above the most painful and tragic part of our loss."

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