UK

Thomas Dunkley Convicted Of Killing And Dismembering Ex-Boxer, Shaun Cummins

09/05/2013 18:51 BST

A man has been found guilty of the murder of a former champion boxer who was found dismembered in freezers at his home.

Thomas Dunkley had denied murdering ex-WBA light-middleweight boxer Shaun Cummins but admitted preventing his burial.

shaun cummins

The judge at the trial said Shaun Cummins (right) was a 'difficult and violent man but did not deserve to die'

During a seven-day trial at Leicester Crown Court, Dunkley, 29, admitted cutting up the ex-boxer's body with a chainsaw and storing his body in freezers at Cummins' bungalow.

He denied murder and claimed he had panicked after Cummins died of natural causes in his sleep.

But a jury of seven women and five men took just under eight hours to find him guilty of murder.

Family and friends cheered in the public gallery as the jury gave their verdict.

Dunkley, wearing a striped shirt, stared straight ahead in the dock.

Judge Mrs Justice Dobbs sentenced him to life imprisonment and ordered he serve a minimum term of 34 years.

Sentencing him at Leicester Crown Court, she said: "This was a murder for gain even though there may have been other motivations.

"You may have felt you were owed money but this is not the way of going about it."

Referring to the dismemberment, she said: "It was a grotesque act, violating Cummins' person and his dignity in death and the sensitivities of his family."

She said although the trial had heard Dunkley was bullied and assaulted by Cummins, provocation had "not been an issue in this case".

The subsequent use of his credit cards by Dunkley after his death was "despicable", the judge added.

Dunkley was also convicted of theft in relation to stealing one of the former boxer's credit cards, and fraud by taking out a payday loan in the former boxer's name - both before his death.

thomas dunkley

Thomas Dunkley said said Shaun Cummins had promised him money but he had never received it

He had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to preventing the unlawful burial of a body and four counts of fraud relating to taking money from the ex-sportsman's bank accounts and trust fund after his death.

During the trial the jury heard Dunkley stole more than £25,000 from Cummins after he murdered and dismembered the 45-year-old and stored his body parts in freezers at his bungalow in Leicester.

In the days after the murder, Dunkley went on a shopping spree with Cummins' credit cards, putting down a deposit on a used car, dining out and buying clothes from numerous stores.

He was also shown on CCTV using his victim's credit card to buy another freezer from Comet when he ran out of space to store the body parts, and a chainsaw.

The court heard the parts were found in bin liners sealed with duct tape in three freezers at Cummins' bungalow on Marriot Road.

A post mortem examination was carried out and it was not possible to determine a cause of death.

Giving evidence, forensic pathologist Professor Peter Vanezis told the court he could not give an exact cause of death due to the decomposition and dismemberment of the body.

The dismembering could "mask" a fatal knife wound to the body or he may even have been suffocated with a pillow, he told the court.

The jury also heard Cummins had been suffering from bronchial pneumonia, a urinary tract infection, kidney disease and gastritis, before his death.

Cummins, who was known as The Guvnor, retired from boxing in 1995 having taken the WBA light-middleweight title in 1992.

He was paralysed by a motorbike accident in 2004, which left him requiring home care.

Prosecutor William Harbage QC told the court the murder was motivated by money and revenge.

Father of two Dunkley had given up his job to care for Cummins and said the former boxer had promised him money but he had never received it.

Mr Harbage said Dunkley, who owed creditors around £16,500, wanted to "free himself" of Cummins and "get at" his money.

Today in mitigation David Mason QC, defending Dunkley, told the court his friendship with Cummins had broken up his relationship with the mother of his children.

He said Dunkley had been threatened and bullied by Cummins.

In her sentencing, Mrs Justice Dobbs accepted Cummins had bullied Dunkley.

She said: "Shaun Cummins was a difficult and violent man, but he did not deserve to die."

In the days prior to is death Dunkley searched the internet asking "what happens when you are stabbed in the stomach?" and "how long does it take to die after you are stabbed?".

He also searched for men's designer clothing on the internet prior to Cummins' death.