Life Sentence For Smethwick Canal Murderer

A Black Country man has been given life in prison for killing another man, putting his body in suitcases and dumping them in a Birmingham Canal.

34 year-old Lorenzo Simon murdered long term friend 39 year-old Michael Spalding at a flat in Oxford Road, Smethwick, before dismembering the body, putting it inside two suitcases and along with girlfriend Michelle Bird throwing them into a Birmingham Canal. 

They weighted the suitcases down with broken slabs but one case floated to the surface and the gruesome discovery was made by a Canal Trust contractor on May 12 last year.

That was 16 days after police suspect Michael Spalding was killed.

Simon initially denied knowledge of Mr Spalding's death, claiming he threw the 39 year-old out following a row over a car crash but later admitted assaulting him during a fight after police found tiny blood droplets on the flat's lounge wall.

Neighbours reported seeing a bonfire in the Simon's garden following Michael's disappearance and forensic examination of debris from an oil drum found part of the victim's bones.

Police divers recovered the second case below Pope Bridge on May 16 and further searches of the canal bed uncovered a hacksaw.

Using 3D scanning technology experts were able to show a perfect match between the tool and wounds on Spalding's body.

At Birmingham Crown Court today (April 16) Simon was sentenced to life behind bars and will serve a minimum of 19 years.

Michelle Bird, who was acquitted of murder, but admitted assisting an offender was jailed for two and a half years.

Investigating officer, Detective Inspector Harry Harrison, speaking after sentencing at Birmingham Crown Court told Heart "It is an horrific crime beyond comprehension."

"Michael was exploited in life by both Lorenzo Simon and Michelle Bird and they afforded him no dignity in death.

"It's beyond comprehension that in order to conceal the crime they treated him in the most despicable and barbaric manner.

"I don't think the simple issue of sentencing will ever close the loss of Michael to the family. They've endured 12 months of pain.

"It's fair to say that neither Simon nor Bird would have been brought to justice without the tremendous support we received from the local community around Oxford Road in Smethwick, The Canal and River Trust and also the expert help of Professor Mark Williams at Warwick University whose pioneering 3D scanning technology really assisted the inquiry."