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Murder and manslaughter conviction for men who went out drinking after killing

9 Sep 2021

A man has been found guilty of murder after an order to rob his uncle resulted in him carrying out a fatal attack which left his victim with 47 separate injuries.

Steve Arnold, 51, of Butterworth Path, Luton, was convicted of the murder of his uncle, Michael Fletcher, at the Old Bailey in London today (Thursday).

A second man, Barry Gavin, 51, who lived with Arnold, was convicted of manslaughter in relation to the killing.

On 30 September, Arnold set out from his house armed with a knife. Instructed by Gavin to repay a debt, he intended to rob Mr Fletcher, 66, of money to buy alcohol.

The court heard that Gavin had told Arnold to ‘do him over’.

Once inside Mr Fletcher’s home, Arnold viciously attacked him with the knife, causing 47 separate injuries.

Arnold left with his uncle’s debit card and PIN number having spent an hour and a half in the address.

After meeting Gavin shortly after the killing, Arnold withdrew cash from the victim’s account and together they embarked on a drinking binge in Luton town centre.

That evening, Gavin called police and said Arnold had stabbed his uncle in ‘self-defence’. Officers attended and Mr Fletcher was pronounced dead at the scene.

CCTV footage examined by police and seen by the jury showed Arnolds’s journey to and from the scene, and enabled detectives to recover the blood-stained knife from a bin in Bury Park Road.

Further footage showed them using Mr Fletcher’s debit card before raising a glass to each other in a Luton pub.

Gavin’s role in the murder became clear later when police identified that he had continued to use Mr Fletcher’s debit card after the arrest of Arnold.

He also made admissions to a member of the public whilst under the influence of alcohol.

The jury found that Gavin had encouraged the attack and that Arnold had carried it out with the intention of causing at least really serious harm to Mr Fletcher.

Detective Inspector Iain Macpherson, from the Bedfordshire Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, which led the investigation, said: “We will never understand what caused Arnold to launch such a sustained and vicious attack on Mr Fletcher.

“The motive was robbery but the number and nature of the injuries were out of all proportion.

“Arnold and Gavin went out drinking in the hours after the attack, using money stolen from Mr Fletcher’s bank account, and they showed very little remorse.

“It is extraordinary that they were seen raising their glasses to one another in the immediate aftermath of such a brutal act.

“Our thoughts remain with Mr Fletcher’s family.”

Arnold and Gavin are due to be sentenced on 29 October.

Steve Arnold

Barry Gavin

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