Three jailed following 'sophisticated' murder in Mossley
Two men and a woman have been jailed for their involvement in the robbery and murder of a 39-year-old man.
Stephen Cleworth, 38, Reece Steven, 29, and Colleen Campbell, 38, were all charged with murder and conspiracy to rob after Greater Manchester Police uncovered the plot which led to the death of Thomas Campbell.
Mr Campbell was returning home to his address on Riverside, Mossley, around 11pm on 2 July 2022 when he was attacked as he tried to open his front door. A confrontation outside led to Mr Campbell sustaining a serious injury, he was then bundled inside his house.
Over the next two hours, Mr Campbell was tortured and murdered by three men, including Reece Steven and two others who have yet to be located and charged.
The body of Mr Campbell was discovered by neighbours the following day as his door was insecure; he was found lying dead in the hallway of his address.
The pathologist later confirmed that Mr Campbell had 61 injuries consistent with being stamped on or kicked, stabbed, strangled and scalded.
Mr Campbell’s house had been ransacked, but it is unknown what the offenders were looking for or if they found it. Despite the time they spent at Mr Campbell’s address, there was no forensic evidence left at the scene.
The planning for the attack started some days before. John Belfield, who is still wanted by the police, is thought to be the main instigator. His ex-partner had been seeing Thomas Campbell which may have been the motive for the murder.
The prosecution case was that Colleen Campbell, ex-wife of Thomas Campbell, had been contacted to gather the information that was needed to carry out the attack. As Mr Campbell picked up their two children from school, she was able to provide information about Mr Campbell’s whereabouts, including his address and a partial registration plate for his vehicle.
In the week leading up to the murder, Stephen Cleworth and Reece Steven, along with another man, arranged for a tracker to be placed on Mr Campbell’s van so the group could see exactly where he would be. This was used to plan the attack.
Reece Steven was involved in the planning and execution of the murder of Mr Campbell. Cleworth was not present when the final strike took place as by his own account, he was drunk and so didn’t turn up.
As the events leading up to Mr Campbell’s death were investigated, police discovered that there had been previous visits to Mr Campbell’s address, no doubt planning the future attack.
Police recovered the tracker that was placed on Mr Campbell’s van and were able to access the data showing when the tracker was used and where it was when it was activated.
On 30 June 2022, Cleworth, Steven and two other men were lying in wait for Mr Campbell, but when he arrived home, he didn’t go into his house as they anticipated he would, he took his dog for a walk.
The men went looking for Mr Campbell in the wooded area nearby. They were caught on CCTV retracing his route, but they didn’t catch up with him that evening.
On 2 July 2022, Steven and two other men laid in wait again, this time Mr Campbell came home and was attacked as he was opening his front door.
They made significant attempts to cover their tracks including taking the CCTV hard drive and ring doorbell with them as they left Mr Campbell's house.
Police tracked the van used in the murder to the Peak Forest where they recovered several items from Mr Campbell's house including his wallet and driving licence, along with the tracker phone and a burned flask.
Following a five-week trial, Steven, Campbell and Cleworth were convicted of conspiracy to rob. Steven was also convicted of murder and Campbell and Cleworth were convicted of manslaughter.
All three were sentenced at Bolton Crown Court on Wednesday 22 February.
Steven was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 37 years, Cleworth was jailed for life with a minimum term of 12 years and Campbell was jailed for 13 years. Belfield remains at large.
Lucy Scully, Senior Crown Prosecutor with CPS North West’s Complex Casework Unit, said: “Thomas must have been absolutely terrified during the vicious and relentless two-hour attack.
“The CPS worked hard with Greater Manchester Police to piece together the strands of evidence to prove that this was a pre-planned and sophisticated attack, where each person played their part in causing Thomas’s death. Despite their attempts to cover their tracks, they have been found guilty.
“My thoughts are very much with Thomas’s family and friends.”
Notes to editors
Reece Steven (DOB 22/05/1993) has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 37 years.
Stephen Cleworth (DOB 24/11/1984) has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 12 years.
Colleen Campbell (DOB 27/03/1984) has been sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Karl Murphy was found not guilty of participating in the activities of an organised crime.