THREE people who perverted the course of justice in the investigation to find Andrew Heath’s killer have been given custodial sentences.
Last year Daniel Martin, of Canterbury Road, Ronkswood, was sentenced to ten years in prison after he pleaded guilty to Mr Heath’s manslaughter at Birmingham Crown Court.
At the same court today (Friday) Teresa Martin, Sarah Martin and Matthew Davies, Daniel Martin’s mum, sister and sister’s partner, were all sentenced for perverting the course of justice.
All three defendants have already served enough time in prison on remand or on a tag that they have completed their sentences and have therefore been released from custody.
Mr Heath was found dead following a fire at his flat in Chedworth Close, Warndon, which happened about 4am on Wednesday December 14, 2011.
Three wheelie bins were placed in the porch of his front door and set alight and the ensuing blazed killed the 52-year-old.
Teresa Martin, of Rodborough Drive, was handed a 14-month prison sentence for providing false witness statements. She pleaded guilty to the offence on March 31.
The 46-year-old lied to detectives about her son’s whereabouts in three interviews, when she said he was at home until at least 4.30am on the morning of the fire.
Sarah Martin, 27, and partner Matthew Davies, both of Maple Avenue, were also found guilty of perverting the course of justice, following a trial in October last year.
Daniel Martin’s sister lied to police on a number of occasions about her brother’s whereabouts the morning of the fire, while Davies claimed he knew nothing about the incident.
At his trial the 30-year-old refused to give evidence or to enter the witness box.
Martin was sentenced to 12-months imprisonment and Davies to ten months.
Det Supt Paul Williamson said: “Those who lie to the police, especially on such a serious case where someone has been killed, will have to face the consequences.
“Despite the main offender in this case, Daniel Martin, admitting he killed Andrew Heath, this has not stopped us pursuing those who have lied to the police in an attempt to protect him.
“We warned the defendants, in person and through the media, that if they did try to shield Martin they would be prosecuted, but they did not heed these warnings.
“Even though they are family members, we expect such loyalties to be put to one side when it comes to facing justice, especially for committing such a serious crime as manslaughter.
“These sentences follow the imprisonment of three men in March 2013 for attempting to intimidate witnesses in the case via social media.
“I hope our actions show anyone contemplating trying to disrupt the court or justice systems that the police and the courts do not take such activity lightly and they will be punished for their actions.”