On Air Now
Early Breakfast with Jenni Falconer 4am - 6am
19 December 2011, 17:49
Two men from Cambridgeshire were found guilty today of murdering a father of three who was found dying in the back of a van in Berkshire.
Shaleem Amar (pictured right), 33, had been attacked with lump hammers and was bleeding profusely from a wound to his head when police found him lying in a rubble bag, covered in sand, in Sunningdale in November last year.
A jury of six men and six women at Reading Crown Court found Tom Johnston, 25 and from Pampisford, and Shaun Matthews, 56 and from Whittlesford, guilty by majority verdicts after deliberating for more than 22 hours, following a six-week trial.
Johnston's brother Ben, 27, and their 57 year old father Robert Derek Johnston, (pictured below), both also from Pampisford, were found guilty last week.
Mr Amar, a business associate of Johnston senior, was attacked in the kitchen of his rented luxury home, the trial was told.
Officers, who followed the four men after they drove off from Mr Amar's home in their white van, eventually found him mortally wounded.
When the vehicle was pulled over on November 17 last year, officers noticed the men's clothing was covered in blood, but one claimed he was a decorator and that the substance was red paint.
It was some time later, and after an initial search of the back of the van, that Mr Amar was found in the rubble bag, which had been covered with clothes and blankets.
Mr Amar, who had suffered severe head injuries, a fractured cheekbone and defensive wounds to his hands, was pronounced dead on the roadside.
Blood-stained hammers were found in a satchel in the footwell of the van.
While there was no clear motive for the murder, jurors were told, Johnston senior and Mr Amar were partners in a fraudulent business which carried out complicated paper trail VAT fraud.
The company would claim VAT on goods it "sold'' but that did not actually exist.
Johnston senior had denied murder but told the jury he killed Mr Amar, and that he acted in self-defence because he feared he would himself be shot after a row over money.
He had told the court: "He was shouting that he was going to kill me and I was defending myself.''
The Johnstons and Matthews will be sentenced by Judge Zoe Smith tomorrow (Tuesday).