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25 June 2012, 14:00
Two step brothers and a woman have been jailed for a combined minimum of 77 years for the murder Daniel Spires, a pensioner from London Colney.
Daniel Davies and Troy Schuldt concocted the murder plan with Davies' former girlfriend because they believed their victim kept £30,000 in a safe.
But when they opened it they discovered only one dollar and they were reduced to selling Daniel Spires' belongings over the internet.
Mr Spires, 69, who looked like an aged rocker, was nicknamed the scrap metal man.
He had few friends and his killers thought he would not be missed, St Albans crown court was told.
But they were caught because they were unable to keep quiet about what they had done.
They confessed to others and were arrested, more than 3 months later, after Mr Spires' remains were found where he had been left in undergrowth in a wood at Welham Green in Hertfordshire.
Davies, 24, of Alma Road, St Albans, and Davies' stepbrother Schuldt, 20, of no fixed address, denied murder between 12 and 15 June last year but were convicted by the jury of 8 women and 4 men after 21 hours and 31 minutes.
They were sentenced to life with a minimum term of 28 years.
The jury also convicted Davies' ex girlfriend Samantha Smith, 21, of Alma Road, St Albans of murder and obstructing the coroner by a majority of ten to two.
The mother of two was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 21 years.
Smith pleaded guilty to two charges of assisting an offender in relation to Schuldt and was convicted unanimously by the jury of two charges of assisting an offender in relation to Davies.
Schuldt pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and obstructing the coroner. Davies was found guilty of obstructing the coroner.
Stuart Trimmer QC, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said that on 24 September last year the partially decomposed body of Mr Spires, who had looked like an "aged rocker", was found.
The defendants, who at the time were on benefits and all lived in Telford Court, St Albans, had been regular visitors to his address in Cotlandswick, London Colney near St Albans in the period before his murder.
He was last seen with his large Mercedes Sprinter van that was fitted out in a distinctive way, on June 13 last year.
Mr Trimmer said: 'He bought and sold items and had a metal safe. It is this safe that appears to be a central feature in the murder. These defendants believed it contained £30,000 in cash. That safe was removed after the murder and has not yet been recovered by the police.
'The murder of Daniel Spires was not a spur of the moment event, but a planned crime specifically to take the money they believed to be in the safe and any other items of value which they could sell.'
Emma Blee, who knew the stepbrothers, had heard them say they had taken the safe from the wardrobe at Mr Spires' home in London Colney to discover it contained just a dollar. The safe was never recovered.
Schudlt was to confess that Mr Spires was tricked into going with him and Davies to the woods when they said they had some catalytic converters to sell him.
After the killing the defendants placed Mr Spires' property for sale. His jewellery was taken from his body along with his keys, wallet and phone. The van was placed for sale on the Gumtree web site. It was eventually swapped for a red VW Polo by Davies, who then put that for sale on Gumtree.
Other items belonging to the dead man were put up for sale. They included a pressure washer, a suitcase generator, a PC, a flat screen TV, a mini safe and external hard drives.
Troy Schuldt told his stepsister Hayley Davies: "Me and Daniel killed our mate Danny. He was mugging us off so we took him to the woods and did him over."
Schuldt was later seen wearing a chain belonging to the dead man.
They were arrested after Keely Charlton, Schuldt's ex-girlfriend, told a friend what she had learned. She passed the information to a college tutor, who called the police.
The prosecutor said Daniel Spires was a safe target. If he were to go missing his disappearance would neither be quickly noticed nor reported. 'It was also known that he was going to take a lengthy trip abroad. Daniel Spires was a man who was estranged from his family. He had few friends and counted Daniel Davies as one of them,' he said.
Mr Trimmer said Smith's flat was the base from where the plan was executed:
'Samantha Smith was part of the group trusted with the knowledge of the plan and the execution of it. It started from her flat, it returned to her flat. Her flat was the place where all were free to change out of bloody clothes and to dispose of them. Although not at the scene of the murder she was part of it’s planning and assisted in its execution.'