A Leeds man will be sentenced for the “vicious” killing of a Bradford grandfather in his own home later this month after his co-defendant was found guilty of murder by a jury.
Earlier this month Nathan Jefferson, 20, of Springwell View, Holbeck, pleaded guilty to murdering 68-year-old Clement ‘Butch’ Desmier back in August 2012 and this lunchtime 33-year-old David Lawler was also convicted by a jury of murder.
The case had been the subject of several police appeals and was only finally solved after two “brave” members of the public came forward with information about the two men.
Lawler, formerly of Central Avenue, Shipley, is already serving a 10-year extended sentence for slashing a man’s throat with a knife just nine days after Mr Desmier’s body was discovered at his home in Rowlestone Rise, Greengates.
Lawler had denied murdering the pensioner and intimidating a former partner, who gave evidence against him, but the jury at Bradford Crown Court returned unanimous guilty verdicts on all the charges.
The Honourable Mr Justice Blake told the jury that Lawler and Jefferson, would be sentenced for the murder on March 23.
The loss of our father has had a devastating impact on our lives.Statement by family of Clement Desmier
At the start of Lawler’s trial the jury heard that Mr Desmier, who lived alone, had a cushion pressed into his face and suffered multiple injuries caused by a screwdriver and a knife.
Prosecutor Alistair MacDonald said a pathologist concluded that Mr Desmier had died as a result of being asphyxiated and repeatedly stabbed during the sustained assault.
The jury heard that Lawler made “confessions” about his involvement in the killing.
“He said that he had covered the face of Butch Desmier with a cushion while Nathan Jefferson had stood in front of him stabbing Butch,” Mr MacDonald told the jury.
“He went on to say that Butch did not have a chance. He said that he had no blood upon him from this attack but that Nathan Jefferson was covered in blood.”
The jury heard that Lawler made threats towards his former partner and she did not tell the police about his ‘confession’ until April last year.
The jury were told that just nine days after the killing of Mr Desmier Lawler used a Stanley knife to cut a man’s throat at a party.
The court heard during the trial that Lawler and Jefferson had taken part in English Defence League demonstrations and a stash of weapons had been found at Lawler’s then address in Shipley.
Lawler, who showed no emotion as the guilty verdicts were returned, claimed that he was probably asleep at the time of the murder.
Speaking after the case, Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Ridley, the senior investigating officer, said he hoped the verdict would “finally provide Butch’s family and friends with some closure to what has been a very traumatic time for them”.
He said: “This lengthy and complex investigation has seen the team use a wide range of tactics, some of which are only available for the most difficult and serious of inquiries, to establish who was responsible for the killing of Mr Desmier, known to his friends and family as Butch.
“The continued determination and tenacity of the investigation team over the last three and a half years has enabled a case to be built and presented to prosecutors which resulted in Jefferson admitting responsibility for, and Lawler being found guilty of this brutal and sustained attack on a vulnerable, elderly man in his own home.
“Butch was well known in his local community and should have been celebrating his 72nd birthday this month with family and friends.
“I hope that the successful conclusion of this case today will finally provide Butch’s family and friends with some closure to what has been a very traumatic time for them.”
The Desmier family said in a statement: “Today sees the end of a three-and-a-half year agonising wait to identify those responsible for the brutal murder of our father.
“The loss of our father has had a devastating impact on our lives. The fact that he was a vulnerable old age pensioner, viciously attacked in his own home with weapons, will haunt us all for the rest of our lives.
“Two ruthless individuals with no regard for life ripped our lives apart that day and we will never recover from that.
“We would like to praise the brave individuals that came forward and provided information to the police investigation about Lawler and Jefferson’s involvement. Their courage assisted with the conviction of these two individuals which will hopefully allow our father to finally rest in peace.
“We would also like to thank West Yorkshire Police for their unrelenting determination to bring those responsible to justice. They have been an immense support to our family throughout this difficult time. They never gave up and for that we will be forever grateful.”
Julian Briggs, from the complex casework unit at the Crown Prosection Service Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “These two brutal individuals will now be serving substantial prison sentences for their crimes and I hope these bring some comfort to Clement Desmier’s family and friends.”