Homeless man was murdered for “sexual favours”

(left to right) Michael Clarke, Edward Phillips, Lauren Bishop
(left to right) Michael Clarke, Edward Phillips, Lauren Bishop

THE MAN who led the investigation into the horrific murder of a homeless man from Hastings said he was killed for sexual favours.

Detective chief inspector Ian Pollard said that Lauren Bishop instigated the killing of father-of-three Lea Williams and sent Michael Clarke and Edward Phillips to carry it out.

Clarke, 52, and Phillips, 49, were today(FRIDAY) found guilty of beating Mr Williams, 45, to death with a metal bar at Hove pitch and putt on February 11. He was struck between 20 and 30 times.

Bishop, 36, was found guilty of conspiracy to murder.

Speaking outside court DCI Pollard said: “It is clear from evidence that Lauren Bishop instigated the attack on Lea Williams and sent Clarke and Phillips to carry it out. The reward for Phillips for carrying out her instructions was sexual favours, which he received later that evening. Phillips claimed to be a good friend to Lea, however the offer of sexual favours from Bishop meant more to him than that friendship as he took part in this brutal attack and tried to blame Clarke.”

At the end of the four week long trial, the court heard how Clarke and Phillips were career criminals with convictions for violence, kidnap and racial aggravation stretching back 30 years.

Prosecuting barrister Dianne Chan ran through the previous convictions of Phillips.

She told the court his criminal history ran back to 1994 when he was convicted of theft, in 1996 he was found guilty of false imprisonment and wounding and was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

In 2000 he was found guilty of possessing a bladed article in a public place.

Phillips has also been convicted of racially aggravated assaults in 2008, 2011 and 2012.

Miss Chan told the court Clark had a criminal history dating back to 1982 when he was found guilty of burglary and criminal damage.

He also has previous convictions for using violence to enter a premises, conspiracy to obtain by deception and theft.

Judge Scott-Gall praised the jury for sitting through what he described as a ‘long harrowing trial’ and said they had been ‘punctual, diligent and remarkably patient.’

The judge also told the court he planned to give detective constable Alan Smith a recommendation for his ‘exemplary’ work.

After the hearing Mr Williams’ stepfather Colin Bray said: “We are relieved at the verdict and feel that justice has been done.’

Mr Williams mother Patricia Bray, who lives in Hastings, said: “He was my son. He was a good lad, he had his troubles and the main one was alcohol.

“That caused him a lot of problems, obviously. He was a lovely guy.

“I still feel numb.’

Mrs Bray said 19 days after Lea died his 50-year-old sister Sandra Shoesmith also passed away. They are buried together at Hastings Cemetery.

Mr Williams’ daughter Kaylea Williams said: “I’m just really happy with the verdict.”

Mr Williams, who has three children and was once married but divorced, had previously worked as a tree surgeon and a roof tiler.