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1 April 2014, 17:45
Two men have been found guilty of the murder of Michael Griffiths in Fernhurst and another has been found guilty of his manslaughter.
"The investigation into his death was difficult and complex.
"It was made even more so by the cold and calculated attempts of those responsible to destroy any available forensic evidence by means of fire.
"Michael was deliberately targeted by this ruthless gang of criminals for the contents of his life's work. They went to extraordinary lengths: they did research on the internet to locate him, they conducted reconnaissance on his home making a number of trips to Fernhurst, they also attempted to force their way in by purporting to be police officers on the day preceding his death The issue for them was that they needed Michael to be present so that they could gain access to the contents of his safe.
"However, Michael was not easy to fool so they then had to adapt their plan by targeting his home whilst he was out and laying in wait for his return.
"He was then subjected to a prolonged and serious assault that ended in him losing his life. He was callously left tied up by those responsible, not caring if he was still alive or dead.
"The group then left Fernhurst and over the next 24 hours set about disposing and destroying any items that could link them to the scene, including clothing, mobile phones and even a motor vehicle used to transport them.
"They then plotted to return and destroy any remaining evidence by pouring petrol over the crime scene including Michael's body before setting fire to it.
"The investigation uncovered that members of this gang were responsible for a series of burglaries across Surrey and Sussex. A number of these burglaries were conducted in the months following Michael's death.
"Rarely have I witnessed such callous disregard for life. During the trial, absolutely no remorse was shown by any members of the group for their shocking behaviour and actions.
"I am very pleased with the substantial sentences that have been handed down today. Michael was a well-loved and popular figure in Fernhurst and his death has left a hole in the lives of his family, friends and neighbours. I hope that the verdict by this jury will give them some peace and a sense that justice has been done."