A PAIR of sadistic killers preyed on a disabled man before robbing and brutally murdering him in his own home so they could buy alcohol.
Steven Varley and Michael Gath are starting life sentences over the shocking murder of Andrew Gordon, 48, at his flat in Leeds.
Mr Gordon’s body was found in the bath two days after Varley and Gath inflicted horrifying injuries upon him.
His spine was broken in two places and he had head injuries which a pathologist described as similar to those consistent with someone who had been in a car crash or had fallen from a building.
Mr Gordon, who suffered from a debilitating bone condition and diabetes, had also been gagged and smothered during his ordeal.
Leeds Crown Court heard how he would have been in “excruciating pain” during the attack at Briarsdale Heights, Gipton, on February 9 this year.
It is thought Varley, 45, of Coldcoates Crescent, Gipton, may have bullied, threatened and stolen money from Mr Gordon on a regular basis for up to six years to fund his drug and drink habit..
Varley and fellow alcoholic Gath, 30, of Barton Terrace, had previously forced their way into Mr Gordon’s home, on January 28, and robbed him as he made a desperate 999 call to police.
The pair took around £100 in benefits money and broke his television set before humiliating him by forcing him to shake Gath’s hand.
They then used “gratuitous violence” on him by punching him in the face.
Varley and Gath left but returned 12 days later when Mr Gordon desperately tried to defend himself using a screwdriver.
He was overpowered then dragged into the bathroom and subjected to “savage violence”.
Mr Gordon’s bank book was also found in the bath. It is thought Varley and Gath had looked at it before demanding to know what he had done with £105 Mr Gordon had withdrawn days earlier.
Gath pleaded guilty to murder and two offences of robbery. Varley was found guilty of the same offences by a jury on what judge Geoffrey Marson, QC, described as “overwhelming evidence” during the trial.
Both men were told they must serve a minimum of 25 years in prison before they can be considered for release on licence.
After the case, Detective Chief Inspector Elizabeth Belton, of West Yorkshire Police Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, said: “Andrew Gordon was a vulnerable victim who was repeatedly preyed on by Varley and Gath purely so they could rob him for money.
“He was physically disabled and would have been completely defenceless yet they subjected him to a sustained violent attack that resulted in his death.
“They are truly despicable individuals and we hope the significant sentences they have received will provide some small degree of comfort to Andrew’s family and serve to reassure the wider community, which is undoubtedly a safer place without these men in it.”
Mr Gordon’s sister paid a moving tribute to her brother, describing him as “a vulnerable man who liked the simple things in life.”
In a statement, read out to the court on her behalf by a police officer, Jayne Gordon described how her brother had been bullied and struggled with poor health from a young age.
Mr Gordon suffered from ankylosing spondylitis, a condition which affected his spine.
Miss Gordon said: “Andrew was my last living relative. His death has left me feeling so lonely. During the trial of Varley I have been at court every day and I have found it very difficult to listen to how my brother died. I have had to come to court to make sure justice is done for Andrew.”
She described how Mr Gordon preferred to spend much of his time alone, reading and watching television.
His other pleasures were going to play bingo and dominoes.
After the first robbery by Varley and Gath, Mr Gordon was only able to replace his TV and pay bills after he had a win at bingo.
Miss Gordon said she helped her brother move into Briarsdale Heights 11 years ago but soon became fearful that people were taking advantage of him.
“Steven Varley has tormented my brother for years, causing him to live in fear. There are no words for how I feel towards him.
“My brother was a vulnerable man who liked the simple things in life. Throughout his life he never hurt anybody.
“Andrew will always be with me in my heart. I just wish I could see him again. The two men who killed Andrew still have their families, but they destroyed mine when they took his life.”
Judge Marson told the killers: “At the time of his death, Andrew Gordon was 48 years old. Life had not been particularly kind to him.
“Not withstanding those disadvantages he had tried to make the best of his life.
“He lived alone in his flat, which he kept tidy.
“He had a modest income and from his income he was able to maintain himself, manage his affairs and had a little bit of money left over for himself.
“He enjoyed his bingo, dominos and television. Other than that he appears to have spent much of his time alone in his flat.
“On any view he was a vulnerable man. It is clear to me that over the years you, Steven Varley, found Andrew to be an easy target. You preyed on him, at the very least borrowing money from him seven or eight times and not paying him back.
“You had used Andrew Gordon either to fund a drug habit or, latterly, your addiction to drugs.”
Describing the fatal attack,the judge said: “It must have been a prolonged and terrifying ordeal. Andrew would have been in excruciating pain and would have been screaming out.”