Man misled police in murder probe

York Crown Court
York Crown Court

A SCARBOROUGH man has been jailed for perverting the course of justice during a murder investigation.

Steven King, 50, told police that he had not seen John Stamford, who was later convicted of the murder of Gary Virr, when he had in fact been in his Queen’s Terrace bedsit only minutes earlier swapping his blood-splattered trousers for some of King’s clothing.

Stamford was found guilty in November by a jury at Leeds Crown Court of murdering Mr Virr in December 2010 and was given a life sentence. He will serve a minimum of 16 years.

King had pleaded guilty last October to three charges of perverting the course of justice and one of failing to answer to his bail.

Alan Mitcheson, prosecuting, told York Crown Court that King had maintained the denial on a further occasion, before then signing a witness statement several months later that he had not seen Stamford at his flat on December 20, 2010.

Mr Mitcheson said that after brutally assaulting Mr Virr, striking him about the head and body and stuffing a soft toy in his mouth until he died from asphyxia, Stamford had gone to the bedsits in Queen’s Terrace, where he used to live, and scared several of the residents saying he had done something bad.

One resident slammed his door shut in Stamford’s face before climbing out of his second floor window to escape.

Police officers attended, unaware at the time of the murder, but could not find Stamford who had already changed his trousers and left.

The clothing swap eventually came to light when DNA tests were carried out after a keen-eyed police officers watching CCTV footage weeks after the murder realised that Stamford had left his home in one pair of trousers and returned in another.

Taryn Turner, mitigating said that King was “anxious and scared”, having done what he did because he was afraid of Stamford.

She added that King’s actions had not actually held up, or interfered with, the police investigation of the murder.

Jailing King for six months, Judge Scott Wolstenholme said that King had continued to lie, even after he knew Stamford had been charged with murder.

The judge added: “It is a very serious matter to lie to the police in a murder investigation.”

After Stamford was found guilty, Mr Virr’s family said: “We are all now left with feeling empty inside along with a feeling of utter disgust towards John Stamford.

“It causes the family great pain and anguish realising that Gary will never be with us again. He will be missed as a son, brother, husband and grandfather.”