Murder couple are jailed for life

Andrew Gittins.
Andrew Gittins.
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A couple who carried out a savage murder of a vulnerable man in his own home are today starting life sentences.

Andrew Gittins and Michelle Swayne were told they must each serve a minimum of 18 years in prison over the killing of Kevin Childs.

Mr Childs, 58, was beaten, bound and gagged. His face had been scratched with a fork and a sock was later found stuffed in his mouth.

He had suffered more than 60 separate injuries.

Three of his teeth had also been knocked out.

There was also bruising, abrasions and other injuries to the head, face, inside the mouth and both arms and legs. Swayne and Gittins were both arrested on February 18 but denied murder. They were unanimously found guilty after a trial at Leeds Crown Court in August.

The jury heard how the homeless and alcoholic couple had turned up at the victim’s home on the night of the murder and asked to stay.

Gittins, 42, claimed he was asleep during the attack and knew nothing.

Mother-of-six Swayne, 42, later told police she had seen Gittins battering Mr Childs after he had walked in on the couple when they were in bed. She admitted punching and kicking the victim, placing the sock in his mouth and scratching his face with a fork but denied intending to kill him or cause him serious bodily harm.

But the pair were found guilty by the jury of six women and four men after a two-week trial.

The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier, QC, said he was satisfied the murder had been a “joint enterprise.”

He said: “What truly happened that night is now only known to the two of you and you have so far not disclosed that truth. Something caused you to launch an assault on him.

“I do not know what it was. But the ensuing assault was vicious, prolonged and clearly had several episodes. He was, by a combination of manual strangulation and the pushing of the sock down his throat, suffocated to death. It was a dreadful way for him to end his life.”

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