Newcastle pair sentenced to life for murder

26/07/2013

Two people from Newcastle have been sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering a pensioner and hiding his body in a freezer before raiding his bank accounts.

Sharon Swinhoe, 44, and Joseph Collins, 54, were sentenced today after being found guilty at trial Newcastle Crown Court of murdering Peter McMahon, 68. The court heard how the pair had hidden the body of their victim in a chest freezer at the flat of Collins, where it was discovered in December of last year.

Swinhoe was sentenced to life of which she must serve a minimum of 25 years for murder and a 10 year determinate sentence after being found guilty of perverting the course of justice, which will run concurrently.

Joseph Collins was sentenced to life of which he must serve a minimum of 20 years for murder and an 8 year determinate sentence after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice, which will run concurrently.

Their associate, Ronald Douglas, 77, was pleaded guilty of perverting the course of justice after helping the pair move the body of Mr McMahon, but was cleared of manslaughter. He was sentenced to 4 years, of which he must spend 2 in prison. 

Gerry Sydenham, Head of the Crown Court Unit at CPS North East, said: "It is clear from the evidence in this case that Swinhoe manipulated Peter McMahon in the same way that she manipulated the two men who would later assist her in his murder and the disposal of his body.  

"It is evident that Peter had genuine affection for Swinhoe but she chose to exploit those feelings and, on October 18 last year, she led Peter to believe that he was leaving his home to rekindle their relationship. The truth is that she was leading him to his eventual death.

"After the murder, Swinhoe and Collins showed not a scrap of remorse. Their every action from that point was a calculated attempt to evade justice, including their inhuman treatment of Mr McMahon's remains and the web of lies they told, both to Peter's family and to police.

"Ultimately, the only thing that they have achieved through their despicable actions is to prolong the suffering of Peter's family and friends. I am pleased with the sentences passed today and I would hope that they give some measure of comfort to those who knew Peter McMahon at what must be a very difficult time for them."