Six people involved in drug feud murder found guilty
A prolific drug dealer and his associates have been convicted of beating and drowning a man over an unpaid debt.
Six people have been convicted for their roles in the murder of Lee McKnight, whose body was found partially wrapped in a curtain in the River Caldrew, Carlisle, last July.
Jamie Davison, 26, Arron Graham, 26, Jamie Lee Roberts, 18, Coral Edgar, 26, Carol Edgar, 47 and Paul Roberts, 51, were convicted of murder today at Carlisle Crown Court.
Jamie Davison was a prolific drug dealer in Cumbria, generating more than £500,000 a year in criminal money. Mr McKnight was one of Davison’s customers and had been avoiding him as he owed him a large sum of money.
On 24 July last year, after threatening Mr McKnight and his family, Davison and his accomplices lured him to the home of the Edgars in Carlisle city centre where he was savagely beaten.
Neighbours reported witnessing kicking, punching, stamping, the sound of a horse whip and screams coming from the house above the loud music. Coral Edgar was also seen mopping up blood.
Despite the horrific violence, Mr McKnight was still alive when he was taken out of the address to be driven to the river where he was disposed of. Although the cause of death was drowning, pathologists said he would have died from his injuries regardless without hospital treatment.
After the attack, Jamie Lee Roberts called his father, Paul Roberts, 51, and he and Coral Edgar’s mother, Carol Edgar, 47, soon arrived at the scene. Carol provided the Nissan Navarra which took the deeply unconscious and brutally beaten Mr McKnight to the river. Paul Roberts played his part in planning the disposal of Mr McKnight’s body and burned clothes worn by the attackers to destroy forensic evidence.
When it became clear to the killers that they were going to face justice, they began blaming each other and making up complicated lies to cover their own tracks. A strong case was built as the CPS provided the police with early advice at the beginning of the investigation which gave clarity on which lines of enquiry to explore. Prosecutors were also able to unpick the deceptions by working closely with the police to investigate CCTV, phone, forensic and witness evidence.
Isla Chilton, of the CPS, said: "These co-conspirators can’t or won’t face up to the fact that they were all in their different ways responsible for Lee McKnight’s death or helping those responsible for his killing. Instead they rely on lies to absolve themselves of responsibility and shift the blame onto each other.
"Although this was a complex case to bring to trial, we worked closely with the police from the outset to provide early advice to ensure we built the strongest possible case. Through a careful investigation of CCTV, phone and forensic evidence, the CPS was able to present the jury with compelling evidence that undoubtedly showed the guilt of the accused.
“Lee McKnight’s tragic and senseless murder has shocked the community - all due to the greed of the drug dealers. We hope that his family and friends feel that justice has been served because of today’s verdicts. I pay particular tribute to Mr McKnight’s family for the dignity that they have shown throughout this trial, with the extra burden of being witnesses in the case.”
Notes to editors
- Jamie Davison, (DOB 24/08/1994), found guilty of murder
- Arron Graham, (DOB 04/02/1995), found guilty of murder
- Jamie Lee Roberts, (DOB12/12/2002), found guilty of murder
- Coral Edgar, (DOB 26/08/1994), found guilty of murder
- Carol Edgar, (DOB 29/11/1973), found guilty of murder
- Paul Roberts, (DOB 30/07/1969), found guilty of murder
- Isla Chilton is a Senior Crown Prosecutor with CPS North West