Aldham: Leighton Snook jailed for minimum of 30 years
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A man who murdered an elderly relative after going to his house try and steal property has been jailed for a minimum of 30 years.
Leighton Snook and his 17 year-old old accomplice went to the home of 83 year-old Donald Ralph in Aldham on 28 December last year.
Snook had been in contact with Donald in the days and weeks beforehand, asking for money as he owed a debt to drug dealers.
Snook, 28, beat and strangled Donald before he and the 17 year-old boy stole his car and two guns, and drove to Hastings.
Donald’s niece, Tina Ralph, found his body the following day and called the police.
Our officers tracked down Snook, of Albrighton Croft, Colchester, and the boy within three days and they were both arrested and charged.
The jury at their trial heard they had taken a taxi from Mersea Road in Colchester to Aldham on the day of the murder.
CCTV footage showed them walking towards Donald’s address and, after the murder, showed his car driving back towards Colchester.
Snook’s DNA was found on both Donald’s hands and on clothing around his neck.
A knife was later found inside the stolen car and DNA from both Snook and the teenage boy were found on the handle.
Snook was convicted of murder at Ipswich Crown Court on 12 August while the boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was found guilty of manslaughter but not guilty of murder.
At the same court today (Friday 1 October), Snook was jailed for life with a minimum of 30 years.
At the sentencing hearing the judge lifted the reporting restrictions on the identity of the 17 year-old boy who we can now name as Tyler Love, of Darien Way, Braunstone, Leicester.
He was jailed for eight years.
Detective Chief Inspector Scott Egerton, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said:
“Leighton Snook and his teenage accomplice went to Donald Ralph’s house intent on stealing from him for their own gain.
“Their greed and selfish intentions have robbed Donald’s family and friends of someone who was much loved within his community.
“No sentence will be able to bring him back, but I hope this sentence represents justice for them.”
Following the conviction, Donald’s neice Tina said:
“Learning that a member of the family is responsible for murdering Don was a shock.
“The injuries he suffered and how he was killed are incomprehensible to me. He was loved and respected by the family.
“It is so hard to understand why anyone would have wanted to hurt him.
“His extended family all live locally and this has really had an impact on us all.
“Don was also an incredibly well-liked and respected member of the community.
“He would get his newspaper each day from the local petrol station, he went to the bookmakers frequently too, and he belonged to about four local fishing clubs.
“So many people have offered their condolences.
“I know our family and the community are keen to see justice for Don. He was very much loved by everyone and will be greatly missed.”