A BEDWORTH man is facing a sentence of life imprisonment after a jury unanimously convicted him of stabbing ex-footballer Daniel Pitham to death.
The jury had heard that after killing 33-year-old Mr Pitham, carpet fitter John Allison had cut a section from his living room carpet and rolled his victim’s body in it.
It was then hidden under in a cupboard under the stairs while he and Scott Warner tried to arrange transport to remove the body – probably to dump it at a disused gravel pit.
Allison (34) of Bulkington Road, Bedworth, had denied murdering Mr Pitham, claiming the fatal injuries had been caused accidentally as he tried to defend himself.
But after a total of 14 hours and 31 minutes over the course of four days, at the end of a five-week trial, the jury at Warwick Crown Court found him guilty by a unanimous verdict.
Remanding Allison, whose only reaction had been a shake of his head, in custody, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told him: “You have heard the verdict. I am not going to sentence you today – that will happen on the 2nd of March.”
Allison, who admitted a further charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice following the killing of Mr Pitham, will be sentenced together with Warner and his wife Toni Allison.
Warner (36) of Missing Oak Close, Bedworth, was cleared on the judge’s directions of being involved in the murder – but had admitted conspiring to pervert the course of justice.
Meanwhile Toni Allison (34) of Abbey Street, Nuneaton, was found guilty last week of two charges of perverting the course of justice, which she had denied.
During the trial prosecutor Kevin Hegarty QC said that on May 6 last year the police went to 44 Bulkington Road because of a report of a missing person, and forced entry.
“There was no-one at home, but they set about searching the house and opened the door to the under-stairs cupboard – and there they saw the missing man, Daniel Pitham.
“He was dead. He was lying face-down in the cupboard, wrapped in a piece of carpet which had been tied up with a length of washing line.”
One wound, inflicted by Allison with a large hunting knife, had penetrated his chest by 8.5cm and fatally damaged his heart, while others included one which had penetrated his liver.
Mr Hegarty said it was ‘more likely than not’ that he died in the living room and was then wrapped in a piece of carpet cut from the floor carpet and put in the cupboard.
“Putting him in the cupboard was a temporary measure. The purpose of wrapping him in carpet, we say, is they intended to remove his body from the house disguised as a roll of carpet.
“They sent messages and requests to various people with a common theme. They wanted a vehicle, a car or a van. Their plan was to put him into that vehicle and then dispose of him.
“You may conclude that what they had in mind was simply to dump him wrapped in the carpet.”
One man was told there was some rubbish which needed to be collected from Allison’s home – and when he said the tip would be closed, he was told to ‘just tip it at the Slatey,’ referring to a disused gravel pit.
And Mr Hegarty commented: “Plainly they had an idea where Mr Pitham’s body was going to be dumped.”
Allison said during the trial he had ordered Mr Pitham out of the house because he had spat ‘a greenie’ onto the floor.
He claimed that as he had tried to get him out, Mr Pitham had grabbed the knife and lashed out at him, and that the injuries had been caused accidentally as he tussled with him – but that account was rejected by the jury.
Of Toni Allison’s role, Mr Hegarty said: “She told John Allison to get rid of his phone on the 6th of May, the day the police discovered Daniel Pitham’s body, and on a date on or before the 8th disposed of the sim card from her own phone.”
When she was spoken to by the police on May 7, ‘she was evasive when asked where her phone was,’ and said she had thrown the sim card out of a car window.
She maintained she did not know where the phone was, but it was found under some towels in a drawer – and analysis of it disclosed messages exchanged between her and John Allison.
Three men who had also been before the court were all cleared of charges they had faced following the brutal killing.
James Gould (35) of Hayes Lane, Exhall, had been found not guilty of two charges of perverting the course of justice on the judge’s directions at the end of the prosecution case.
And after their deliberations at the end of the trial, the jury found Lee Williams (28) of Beechwood Road, Bedworth, not guilty of two charges of perverting the course of justice and Bradley Gane (39) of Braytoft Close, Coventry, not guilty of perverting the course of justice and assisting an offender.