26/Jul/2014 - Last News Update: 06:56

Trio convicted of torture murder

Category: England

Published: 22nd Jan 2010 13:10:53

A woman, her brother and ex-lover have been convicted of torturing to death her partner at the County Durham house they all shared.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Andrew Gardner, 35, was burnt and beaten over a period of weeks before his death at the house in Chilton in March 2008.

His partner Clare Nicholls, 28, her brother Simon, 24, and her ex-partner Steven Martin, 44, had denied murder.

A jury heard how helpless Mr Gardner suffered weeks of agonising violence.

Earlier Clare Nicholls' guilty plea to manslaughter was rejected by the Crown.

Mr Gardner was father to the youngest of his partner's four children.

He had 21 rib fractures, burns to his feet, neck and back, whip-like marks on his body, severe bruising and brain bleeding.

Boiling water

Crude abuse was daubed on his body in nail varnish when he cried.

Jurors wept when they heard that youngsters were encouraged to join in the attacks at the house they shared in Arthur Street, Chilton.

Marks caused by a sharp object were found on his body, described by Home Office pathologist Dr Nigel Cooper as "a grotesque game of noughts and crosses".

Boiling water was poured over his feet in the bath, he was held against a hot radiator and scorched with a cigarette lighter.

Mr Gardner, who weighed 8st 14lb (57kg) was banned from eating and was forced to steal food from cupboards, and received more punishment when he got caught.

Paramedics were called to the house on 13 March last year but, Mr Gardner had been dead for some time.

Medical evidence showed he was incapacitated by a second, painful set of rib injuries, probably caused by jumps or stamps, and that he took "some time to die".

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BBC News, 2010. Trio convicted of torture murder [Online] (Updated 22nd Jan 2010)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/12667/Trio-convicted-of-torture-murder [Accessed 26th Jul 2014]

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