Andrew Lawless found guilty of murdering Stephen Price

25/02/2010

Andrew Lawless was today found guilty at Exeter Crown Court of murdering Stephen Price in Paignton on 2 May 2008.

Commenting on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Senior Crown Prosecutor, David Gittins, said: "This was a challenging prosecution for the CPS as this is a case where no body has ever been found to create a forensic link between Andrew Lawless and Stephen Price's murder. What we did have was evidence to show that Lawless had a disagreement with Price on the night he disappeared, that Lawless had a history of violence and that he and his van left the area that night and were not seen again for some days."

"The CPS South West Complex Casework Unit took on this case at an early stage when it became apparent that it would be a complex and lengthy investigation. The unit deals with serious and organised crime throughout the South West. We worked closely with Devon and Cornwall Constabulary to ensure we were able to present every available piece of evidence to the jury at court."

"It is more difficult to prove a murder beyond all reasonable doubt in the absence of a body and it is testament to the hard work and dedication of the prosecution team that the jury today returned a guilty verdict."

Cases of murder where the victim's body has not been found, while not common, are not as rare as one might think. Nationally the CPS prosecutes several each year. The South West Complex Casework Unit recently secured a successful conviction against Adrian Prout, a Gloucestershire farmer, sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum tariff of 18 years for the murder of his wife, whose body has never been found.

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Notes for editors

For further information, contact CPS South West Press Office on 0117 930 1343 or 0117 930 1344

The Crown Prosecution Service is the independent authority responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. It is responsible for:

Advising the police and reviewing the evidence on cases for possible prosecution

  • Deciding the charge where the decision is to prosecute
  • Preparing cases for court
  • Presenting cases at court

The CPS incorporates RCPO

The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales. The CPS employs around 8,400 people and prosecuted 1,091,250 cases with an overall conviction rate of 85.1% in 2007-2008. Further information can be found on our website: www.cps.gov.uk

The CPS South West Group consists of the areas Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall and Gloucestershire.