Six people from Cumbria have been jailed after attacking a man and leaving him to die alone.
All six people, from Carlisle, were found guilty of murdering 26-year-old Lee McKnight on July 5 following a seven week trial at Carlisle Crown Court.
Jamie Davison, 25, of Beverly Rise, Carlisle was sentenced to life with a minimum of 30 years, Carol Edgar, 46, of Charles Street was sentenced to life with a minimum of 13 years, Coral Edgar, 25, of Charles Street, Carlisle was sentenced to life with a minimum of 13 and a half years, Paul Roberts, 51, of Grey Street, Carlisle was sentenced to life with a minimum of 20 and a half years, Arron Mark Graham, 25, of Blackwell Road, Carlisle was sentenced to life with a minimum of 26 years and Jamie Lee Roberts, 18, of Grey Street, Carlisle, was sentenced to life with a minimum of 16 and a half years.
On July 24, 2020, at round 5:24am, police received a report of a body having been found in the river Caldew.
The body was later formally identified as that of 26-year-old Carlisle man Lee McKnight.
A pathologist determined that the cause of death was drowning together with injuries sustained to his head, neck and body.
The court heard that in the early hours of the July 24, Lee had suffered a group attack involving weapons at a property in Carlisle, having been lured to the address.
The attack left Lee gravely injured before he was transported by vehicle to a remote location by the River Caldew where his body was disposed.
Speaking following the trial, Detective Superintendent Dave Stalker the Senior Investigating Officer in the case, said: “Lee McKnight died as a result of a pre-planned assault which was intended to cause him serious injury, he was then transported to a remote location and left to die.
“This brutal attack was motivated by a drugs debt of Lee’s, owed to Jamie Davison. Davison also had a debt of his own and was desperate to recover the money owed to him, linked to his wholescale supply of Class A drugs.
“Davison planned the attack and enlisted the help of Coral and Carol Edgar to lure Lee to their address and provide a secure venue, as he was their supplier. He also recruited Arron Graham and Jamie Lee Roberts as his ‘muscle’ for the attack.
Following their prolonged and sustained attack, Paul Roberts was then summonsed, to help with the final disposal of Lee and his callous deposition at the River Caldew where he died alone.
“All were aware of what was planned and willingly participated in the actions that resulted in lee’s death.
“I hope that today’s sentences give some closure to Lee’s family, this has not been an easy few week and I hope this brings them some satisfaction to see them all being put behind bars.
“I would also like to thank the jury, over the last seven weeks they have engaged and listened to everything put before them, they are ordinary members of the public who have had to see and listen to this horrific incident.
“Furthermore, I would like to thank our colleagues within the CPS and prosecuting Counsel Mr Timothy Cray QC and Mr Tim Evans, for the manner in which the case has been prepared and delivered at trial.
“Lastly I must thank the superb team of officers and staff from Cumbria Constabulary who have shown great dedication and professionalism in first apprehending these individuals and then investigating these complex events.”
“This is an extremely unusual set of circumstances for Cumbria, in terms of scale, severity and the impact within the locality.
“I hope the manner in which it has been dealt with and outcome, will reassure the public, the Constabulary will act robustly, bring those responsible to justice and serve to keep our communities safe.”
Following the verdict, Lee’s family made a statement.
They said: “Where can we start, this had been one the hardest things that our family has had to cope with.
“This has pushed our family to the limit, but we know we are a strong family and we can get through this horrendous tragedy.
“There isn’t a day goes by when we don’t think of Lee. He was loved by so many and we were proud to call him our son.
“It was hard to believe that Lee will never walk through our front door again and there will always be a spare seat at our table – we will miss his smiling face and infectious laugh
“Every family has lost a love one through different causes, but this is a lot different and will miss Lee so much.
“No sentence will bring back our son but will give us peace that those responsible for playing a part in his death have been brought to justice.
“We would also like to thank everyone who has supported us since Lee died, Family, Friends and the Police for all their hard work – the support has been amazing and we really appreciate it”
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