Man jailed for brutal drug murder

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The Independent Online

A drug addict was sentenced to life in prison today for murdering a "vulnerable" and "much loved" father-of-three in a "vicious and brutal" attack.

Shane Capseed, 23, repeatedly stamped on the head of widower Martin Ridler and left him lying in a pool of blood following a fight in Columbia Close, Gloucester, last year.



Mr Ridler, 44, a trained tree surgeon who required a walking stick, was taken to hospital following the attack on August 3 with serious head injuries and died nine days later, on August 12.



Capseed, of Worcester Street, Gloucester, who was helped by his co-defendant Robert Sharps, previously pleaded guilty to murder.



Sharps, of Robinhood Street, Gloucester, pleaded guilty to manslaughter.



Mr Justice Clarke sentenced Capseed at Bristol Crown Court to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 16 years. Sharps was sentenced to seven years in prison and must serve half.



Opening the case, prosecutor Michael Fitton said Mr Ridler had been supplementing his income by selling drugs.



Mr Fitton said the murder victim had arranged to meet Capseed on August 3 to sell him heroin.



He said: "An explanation given in due course, was that Shane Capseed dealt with his transactions in such a way, that he intended to short change him - to rip off the drug dealer."



He went on: "Shane Capseed had gone to purchase two wraps of heroin from Mr Ridler for £20.



"He gave him £15. He short changed him, intending to get away on his bike. When he went to ride off Mr Ridler grabbed him and there was a row.



"Mr Ridler produced a pair of scissors and Shane Capseed called to Robert Sharps for help and so a fight developed.



"He (Capseed) conceded that he ended up stamping on Mr Ridler's head, and he had been acting in self defence. The crown's case is that he lost control of his temper."



Mr Fitton said the attack left Mr Ridler with a footwear mark imprinted on his face.



Mr Fitton said the assault aggravated a medical condition from which Mr Ridler had previously suffered which ultimately led to his death at Frenchay Hospital, in Bristol.



Defending counsel Richard Smith, for Capseed, and Rachel Brand, for Sharps, both said their defendants felt remorse for their actions.



But both men smirked and grinned throughout the hearing, which was attended by members of Mr Ridler's family, and laughed as they were taken to the cells.



Sentencing the men, Mr Justice Clarke said: "You (Capseed) murdered Martin Ridler trying to cheat him. You embarked on a dishonest course which was highly likely to lead to violence."



He added: "Mr Ridler as a victim was somewhat vulnerable."



Mr Ridler, known as Ridds to his friends and family, lived in Kingsholm, Gloucester, with his partner Tessa Morgan and one of his children.



He was survived by three children and three stepchildren.



In the same case, Daniel Croft, 26, of Weston Road, Gloucester, and Brett Capseed, 23, of Trent Road, Brockworth, previously admitted witness intimidation. They will be sentenced at a later date.



After sentence was passed, Detective Superintendent Dave Sellwood, of Gloucestershire Police, who led the investigation, said: "This was a vicious and brutal attack which robbed a family of a much loved father.



"We hope today's sentencing will provide them some comfort and make the people of Gloucestershire feel confident we are tackling serious crime."