TWO men have been jailed for life for torturing and murdering a notorious St Helens gangster over a long-running drug feud.
John Burns and Raymond Brierly lured Paul Morson to a house in Huyton where he was subjected a horrifying ordeal of punishment beatings.
Burns, 31, of Huyton, was ordered to serve a minimum jail term of 30 years, and 59-year-old Brierly, of Windy Arbour, Whiston, received a 25 year prison term.
Another man, 34-year-old Scott Callaghan, of Knotty Ash, was cleared of murder, but jailed for eight years for perverting the course of justice.
Liverpool Crown Court heard last week how Mr Morson, Burns and Brierly were involved into a large cannabis operation but had fallen out.
Burns and Brierly hatched a plan to murder their former associate and steal cash from a safe at his Spinners Drive home in Sutton, St Helens.
Once at the St Helens address, the pair turned on Mr Morson, hitting over the head with a sledgehammer and repeatedly dunking his head in a bucket of water.
Despite an extensive police search, Mr Morson’s body has never been found. Jailing the pair, Judge Clement Goldstone, QC, the Recorder of Liverpool said: “The physical suffering before he died must have been utterly excruciating.
“Public interest requires you pay a heavy price for a crime for which you have shown no remorse.”
Detectice Superintendent Dave Brunskill, who led the murder probe, said: “No-one ever deserves to be harmed or killed but this case has shown the lengths that ruthless men like Burns and Brierly are prepared to go to protect their criminal enterprises.
“Our investigation established that the defendants and victim fell out, at least in part over a cannabis factory and ultimately Paul had his life taken away because of that dispute.
“If anyone still needs convincing that cannabis is not a harmless drug then this case proves that.”
Mr Morson originally hailed for Liverpool but moved to St Helens several years ago where he continued his criminal activities.
He was jailed after he was convicted of helping Michael Barton and Paul Taylor flee the country after they killed black teenager Anthony Walker in 2005.