Life terms for killers who battered man who complained about drug dealing

Two men found guilty of battering a man to death with a baseball bat after he complained about drug dealing outside his home have been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Ian Tomlin, 46, died after being hit multiple times across his head and stabbed in the neck in Cromwell House, Charlotte Despard Avenue, Battersea, south-west London on October 17.

He was struck with such force during the violent attack that the baseball bat split.

Ian Tomlin
Ian Tomlin

A jury found Michael Swan and Mr Tomlin’s neighbour, Gary Beech, guilty of his murder following a trial at the Old Bailey.

Judge Rebecca Poulet QC handed the pair life sentences at the same court on Friday.

Sentencing Beech, 48, and Swan, 46, of Enterprise Way in Wandsworth, the judge said the murder involved “sustained and gratuitous violence”.

“These were terrible injuries, the result of a brutal attack with two weapons,” she said.

Gary Beech
Gary Beech

The judge ruled that Beech would serve a minimum term of 21 years and Swan a minimum of 19 years.

Prosecutor Alexandra Healy QC read out a statement from Mr Tomlin’s 82-year-old mother Monica who had witnessed her son lying “in a pool of blood” after the attack.

Mrs Tomlin said his murder had left her feeling “completely lifeless” and “totally destroyed” by the memories of seeing Mr Tomlin’s injuries.

Her family had been “smothered in grief” by her son’s death, which had left a “hole in my heart that will never be filled”, she said.

Ms Healy had previously told the court that there was “a history of tension” between Mr Tomlin and the defendants in the run-up to the killing, with suggestions that the suspects dealt drugs in CCTV blindspots on the estate where they lived.

Michael Swan
Michael Swan

She said: “The Crown say Beech and Swan murdered Mr Tomlin.

“He was hit repeatedly on the head with a baseball bat.

“He was also stabbed a number of times in the neck.”

CCTV from a building nearby, which looks on to Cromwell House, was played to the jury and appeared to show “a ruckus” on the first floor.

Ms Healy told jurors that evidence suggested Mr Tomlin returned home with shopping moments earlier, then grabbed a baseball bat and a bike chain from underneath his bed to confront Swan and Beech.

After the killing, Swan fled in a car, while Beech left the housing block temporarily before re-entering and going into his flat, a journey which would have taken him past the dying Mr Tomlin on the floor, the court heard.

The court was told both defendants had a long history of crime, including convictions for assault.