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Nicholas de la Poer KC and Richard Holland prosecute organised crime group who tortured rival drug dealer to death

23/02/2023

Following a 5 week trial prosecuted by Nick de la Poer KC and Richard Holland before Mr Justice Goose at Bolton Crown Court, the jury convicted Colleen Campbell and Stephen Cleworth of conspiracy to rob and manslaughter and Reece Steven of conspiracy to rob and murder.  A fourth defendant was acquitted of participating in the activities of an organised crime group.

The defendants had conspired together with others to rob the victim at his home address, hoping to find valuables and substantial quantities of illegal drugs.  Having stalked the victim and rehearsed their plan in the days before the attack, three men, armed with blades, ambushed the victim on his door-step in the evening of 2 July.  They bundled him into his home, where he was restrained with gaffer tape and then subjected to nearly 2 hours of torture, causing his death.  They ransacked his house, searching for what they had come for, before leaving him for dead.

The prosecution were able to prove that Colleen Campbell, the victim’s ex-wife, had fed crucial information to the robbers intending that at least some harm be caused to her former husband, and that Stephen Cleworth, despite not attending on the evening of the killing as he had gone partying instead, had played an integral part in the planning and execution up until the day of the killing, including placing a tracker on the victim’s vehicle.  Reece Steven was proved to be one of the three men who made up the attack-team on 2 July who killed the victim.

The Judge sentenced Reece Steven to a life sentence with a minimum term of 37 years, Stephen Cleworth to a life sentence with a minimum term of 12 years, and Colleen Campbell to a sentence of 13 years’ imprisonment.

The case carried all the hallmarks of Organised Crime Group violence, including the use of multiple stolen vehicles on false plates intending to frustrate the police investigation and the destruction of evidence after the event, and involved the successful presentation by Nick de la Poer and Richard Holland of numerous standards of circumstantial evidence.  These included the distillation of hours of CCTV footage, meticulously gathered and analysed by the police tracking the movements of the defendants and other conspirators in the days and hours before the attack, extensive use of cell-site and mobile phone location data, analysis of messaging and calling patterns between the defendants, DNA evidence of some complexity, and other expert evidence.

Counsel were instructed in the case by CPS Manchester Complex Case Unit on behalf of the Major Incident Team of Greater Manchester Police.

To find out more about the case, please see the news articles below:

Tortured to death in a cold blooded killing fuelled by jealousy and revenge…how Thomas Campbell was betrayed by a woman who claimed to love him – Manchester Evening News

Drug dealer’s ex-wife, 38, who helped arrange his killing is jailed for 13 years | Daily Mail Online

Dead drugs lord’s ex found guilty of manslaughter following seance | Metro News

Gangster’s wife who arranged ex-husband’s torture death jailed after psychic evidence – Mirror Online

Authors

Nicholas de la Poer KC

Call 2003 | Silk 2020

Richard Holland

Call 2012

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Crime

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