Three murderers have been jailed for life for beating a man to death before putting his body in a wheelie bin and setting it alight in the grounds of a church.
The sister of victim Michael Ayres today told a court how the brutal killing was the “the stuff that nightmares are made of”
Andrew Jenkins and Stewart Malnieks were told they must serve a minimum of 18 years in prison over the killing. Stuart Jarvis must serve a minimum of 17 years.
The three men were sentenced after a trial in which jurors heard how firefighters discovered Mr Ayres’s body on January 16 this year after being called to tackle the blaze outside St Augustine’s Church, Hyde Park.
During the investigation police found CCTV footage of Jarvis, Jenkins and Malnieks pushing a wheelie through the streets of Hyde Park.
The prosecution claimed all three men were involved in the murder of Mr Ayres before stealing property, food and alcohol from his home.
Jurors were told all three men had a “common purpose” in disposing of the evidence, including setting fire to Mr Ayres’s body in order the cover up what they had done.
Sentencing the men, Mr Justice Goss told them: “It was a brutal, sustained and unforgiving attack.”
“None of you has revealed what really happened or exhibited any true remorse for what you did.”
During the hearing Mr Ayres’s sister, Margaret Dawson, read a statement to the court describing the devastating effects the killing had had on his relatives.
She said: “For him to suffer a horrific, brutal, sustained attack and the appalling injuries he received and then to be put in a bin and set on fire is beyond comprehension and is certainly the stuff that nightmares are made of.”
Mrs Dawson also paid tribute to her brother after the case.
Speaking on behalf of the family, said: “Firstly I would like to pay tribute to Michael. He was a warm, kind and intelligent man who will be sorely missed by his family and friends.
“In his later years Michael had his problems, but throughout this he was always happy, generous and amiable.
“He certainly did not ask for or deserve what happened to him.
“The evidence clearly showed at some point on Friday 15 January these men decided to murder and rob Michael for their own selfish gains. After they killed him they then tried to cover up the evidence and the horrific injuries they had inflicted on him by setting his body on fire. They failed. Over 300 people attended his funeral in April from all walks of life. The love and respect was palpable.
“The verdict is a right and just one and the sentence reflects the heinous nature of this crime.”
Jarvis, 50, and 38-year-old Jenkins, both of Heights West, Armley, and Malnieks, 61, of Midland Road, Hyde Park, all denied murder but were convicted after the jury of seven men and five women reached unanimous verdicts.
Jarvis and Malnieks were also found guilty of perverting the course of justice.
Jenkins had previously pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.
Mr Ayres and Malnieks lived in bedsits within the same property on Midland Road.
The three defendants met up with Mr Ayres during the course of January 15 and he was subjected to a “sustained forceful attack”.
Later that evening Jarvis and Jenkins were seen a few streets away carrying a TV which belonged to Mr Ayres.
The following day Jenkins took a games console and a Sony boombox which had belonged to Mr Ayres to a Cash Generator store in Armley.
Witnesses saw the three men looking for and obtaining a wheelie bin.
The men were also seen starting a fire in a yard near to Malnieks’s home and burning clothing.
Jenkins was also caught on camera buying firelighters at a Sainsbury’s store.
After the fire the three men went and sat on the steps of Hyde Park Picture House and drank bottles of Lambrini which they had taken from My Ayres’s home.
Pouches of cat food were also taken from Mr Ayres’s home
Jarvis and Jenkins returned to the scene of the fire and were arrested after they began shouting at members of the fire service.
A post mortem showed Mr Ayres had died as a result of multiple injuries to his head, neck and body.
Injuries indicated that Mr Ayres’s had been subjected to significant blunt force trauma consistent with being punched, kicked and stamped upon.
Forensic officers discovered Mr Ayres’s blood in three different areas of Malnieks bedsit and on clothing belonging to Jarvis and Jenkins.
Detective Superintendent Simon Atkinson, of West Yorkshire Police Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, said: “The murder of Michael Ayres was a completely unnecessary act that has left his family understandably devastated.
“In a desperate attempt to cover their tracks, the men responsible treated his body appallingly, dumping him in a bin and setting it alight.
“Michael was a good man who had fallen on hard times in later life which tragically brought him into contact with the men who killed him. We hope it will provide some small degree of comfort to his family to know that those men have now been brought to justice.”