A MAN who admitted killing a convicted sex offender in a flat fire in Worcester has been jailed for 10 years.

Daniel Martin set fire to a wheelie bin and pushed it up against the front door of Andrew Heath's flat in the early hours of December 14, 2011, sparking a rapidly spreading and ferocious blaze in which the 52-year-old was killed.

Sentencing Martin for manslaughter at Birmingham Crown Court, Mrs Justice Thirlwall said the crime was "shockingly stupid".

She said the 25-year-old had intended "to do something so frightening, it would cause him (Heath) to move away from the area where he had lived since 2001".

"You say you threw stones at his window to try and wake him and say you saw a light come on," she added.

"Whatever you did, it was too little too late.

"You say your intention was only to frighten the victim and the prosecution accept you did not intend to kill or attempt to cause really serious harm."

She added she was "not satisfied" Martin was a danger to the public, but he "was a liar and thoroughly anti-social", with a lamentable record of previous convictions, albeit not for similar offences.

Mrs Justice Thirlwall also accepted Martin had expressed genuine remorse for his crime.

She also heard prosecution evidence indicating Martin had an IQ in the lowest percentile.

Mr Heath died of smoke inhalation in what the judge said must have been a "terrifying experience", in which he would have known he would almost certainly die.

Mrs Justice Thirlwall added the fire spread quickly, burning through the door and up Mr Heath's stairway into the Chedworth Close flat.

His burned body was found by firefighters slumped against a radiator.
The victim, who was openly gay, had five convictions for gross indecency and indecent assault in the 1980s and 1990s against teenagers aged between 14 and 17 in Leicester and Birmingham, with his last conviction in 1999.

The former doorman moved from Birmingham to Worcester in 2001.

Martin, formerly of Canterbury Road, Worcester, was separately jailed for six months and two and a half years respectively for two burglaries, carried out before his arrest for Mr Heath's killing in October last year.

He was further imprisoned for six months for assaulting another man in the street in Worcester, with all the sentences ordered to run concurrently.

Afterwards, Mr Heath's sister Leia Charleson said his death had had a devastating effect on the health of their parents, who were unable to come to terms with what happened.

"Both of my parents passed away without having an answer to their only son's death, and before Daniel Martin admitted his guilt (in June)," she said.

She welcomed the outcome as "some comfort" for the family's grief.

"Despite what Andrew did in the past he did not deserve to die in such a cruel way," Ms Charleson added.




THE senior investigating officer in the case said he hoped the "long and complex" investigation, which included appeals on Crimestoppers and police offering a reward of £20,000 to find Mr Heath's killer, would bring some comfort to his family.

“We welcome this sentencing and I hope this significant milestone will help his family move forward," Detective Chief Inspector Paul Williamson said.

“However, sadly, Andrew’s elderly parents died before Martin was brought to justice and the tragedy is Les and Helen Heath never got to see him prosecuted.

“This has been a long and complex investigation and was a tough case to crack: it took 10 months of investigative work before Martin was charged.

“Lacking direct evidence from the crime scene, which was destroyed by the fire, it took old-fashioned detective work and time for us to build a strong case against Martin.

"It was the ultimate challenge for a detective and I would like to thank the many people who worked on the investigation, especially the small team of officers who worked for months on the case with dedication and commitment.

“After ten months of investigation we managed to gather statements from a handful of witnesses in whom Martin had confided his guilt; evidence of him being in financial debt to Andrew Heath; incriminating BBM messages from Martin’s girlfriend’s phone; evidence of his clothing being burnt; as well as inconsistencies and lies in both his accounts and those of people who sought to protect him.

“Two people have since been prosecuted for perverting the course of justice.

“Every piece of evidence we collated boxed Martin into a corner where he had no choice but to plead guilty.”

The investigation team’s inquiries also uncovered that Andrew Heath had a history of sexual offending against teenage boys dates back to the 1980s and 90s, before he moved to Worcester.

DCI Williamson added: “Whatever Mr Heath did in his past, no one deserves to die in such a terrible way and his death has had a huge impact on his decent, honourable and loving family.

“No-one has the right to behave so recklessly that it takes someone else’s life.

“When he was killed, his family asked the police and the public to help them find some answers; I hope this conviction has gone some way to do that. 

"I would like to thank all those members of public who offered statements and came forward as witnesses; their efforts have led to directly to today’s conviction.

“They have helped take a dangerous and prolific offender of the streets of Worcester.”




December 14, 2011: Andrew Heath, aged 52, found dead in his flat in Chedworth Close, Warndon, Worcester. The fire which killed him and gutted his flat started in a wheelie bin in the porch of his home.

January 2012: Police offer a £10,000 reward to track down anyone linked to the killing.

January 2012: The appeal for information features on BBC1’s Crimewatch as police reconstruct Mr Heath’s death.

January 2012: Mr Heath’s family make an emotional appeal for people to come forward and bring his killer to justice at a press conference at West Mercia Police HQ at Hindlip near Worcester.

February 2012: Four people arrested on suspicion of murder. A team of 40 officers working on the case.

March 2012: A total of 10 people held in connection with Mr Heath’s death.

April 2012: It is revealed that victim Andrew Heath had been convicted of sex crimes against young boys.

October 2012: Daniel Martin, aged 23, of Canterbury Road, Ronkswood, remanded in custody after appearing at Worcester Crown Court charged with murder.

May 2013: Daniel Martin admits the manslaughter of Andrew Heath at Birmingham Crown Court.

July 2013: Sentencing of Martin adjourned at Birmingham Crown Court.

November 2013: Martin sentenced to 10 years in prison at Birmingham Crown Court.