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Suspended prison term for destroying evidence in Worcester case
8:20am Friday 16th August 2013 in News
A 26-YEAR-OLD Worcester man who admitted burning a pair of trainers belonging to a suspect in the blaze death of Andrew Heath has been given a suspended jail sentence.
James O’Neill, of Pike Close, Broomhall, Worcester, admitted intending to pervert the course of justice by destroying evidence.
He burned the trainers between December 2011 and September 2012 at the request of Daniel Martin, of Canterbury Road, Ronkswood, who was under suspicion for causing the death of Mr Heath, Paul Whitfield, prosecuting, told Worcester Crown Court.
Martin, aged 23, has since pleaded guilty to manslaughter and will be sentenced in October. Mr Whitfield said that during the course of the investigation into the death of Mr Heath at his flat in Chedworth Close, Warndon, Worcester, in December 2011, police discovered O’Neill had burnt the trainers.
Mr Whitfield said the prosecution accepted he did not know they were part of what was then a murder investigation. He thought they were likely to have been connected with criminal activity but believed it was probably burglary or robbery.
O’Neill entered a guilty plea in July at the start of a trial after an indication he would be given a suspended sentence.
Judge Daniel Pearce-Higgins gave him nine months suspended for two years. He was also given a two-year community order with 12 months’ supervision and will be required to undergo a specified activity programme for 25 days at the probation service’s Willowdene Farm in Shropshire.
Timothy Harrington, for O’Neill, said he hoped to be able to put his time there to good use and learn new skills.