A badger-baiter has been jailed for life after being found guilty of murdering a dad-of-two in a hit and run attack following an argument over a hunting dog.
Rainford man Michael Haigh admitted being the driver of a Jeep Cherokee which struck Ryan Kennedy and forced him into a wall in Gable View, Liverpool, on November 1 last year.
But the 26-year-old, of Buttermere Crescent, claimed he had hit his 24-year-old “best friend” by accident while trying to scare him.
A jury at Liverpool Crown Court thought otherwise though, and Haigh has been told he must spend at least the next 17 years behind bars.
The court heard how Mr Kennedy and a man called Reece Welsh had been jailed for badger-baiting in June 2014 and banned for life from keeping dogs.
But Haigh and Welsh then showed up at Mr Kennedy’s parents’ house at around 2pm on November 1 with a seriously injured dog – to ask him for the number of a vet who would not report them to the police.
Following a heated row, Haigh drove the Jeep towards Mr Kennedy, pinning him against a wall.
The victim suffered multiple injuries and there was nothing medics could do to save him.
Haigh then drove off and spent a week on the run.
DI Lee Wilkinson, said: “This was a despicable and cowardly attack on a man that resulted in his death. There is no place in our communities for people who commit such violent and horrendous crimes.
“The sentencing of Michael Haigh should bring home the enormity of what he has done and the pain and heartache he has caused Ryan’s family and friends and our thoughts are with them today.
“I would like to thank the investigation team and the Crown Prosecution Service for their professionalism and commitment throughout this investigation and their hard work in bringing this case to court.”
In a statement, the family of Ryan Kennedy said: “Whatever the outcome of this trial we as a family feel that there was no win or lose as we lost everything on Saturday, November 1, 2014.
“Our lives have been changed forever. They will never be the same without Ryan. We have lost our much loved son, brother, partner and Ryan’s two beautiful children have had their daddy taken away from them.
“The family’s view is that Michael Haigh has, throughout this trial, embellished the fact that he was a best friend of our son. We do not accept this and we saw Michael Haigh as an occasional friend of Ryan’s and no more.
“Ryan did nothing wrong and did not deserve to die in the cowardly and callous way that he did. We will never forgive Michael Haigh for taking our precious son Ryan away from us.”