A former cage-fighter has been jailed for life for gunning down two gangland enforcers linked to an IRA drugs gang.
Drugs mule Thomas Haigh, 26, from Huddersfield, must serve a minimum of 35 years for blasting David Griffiths and Brett Flournoy to death on a remote Cornish farm because they were demanding he go to Brazil for a second time and bring back cocaine.
Ross Stone, 28, who was cleared of the men’s murders, will serve five years after admitting burning the men’s bodies before burying them in their van following the shooting at his home, Sunny Corner Farm near St Austell.
The bodies of Flournoy, a 31-year-old boxer and pub landlord with two children, from Bebington on the Wirral in Merseyside, and father-of-three Griffiths, 35, from Bracknell, Berkshire, were unearthed after Stone confessed to having disposed of their corpses.
Both he and Haigh owed the dead men about £40,000 in drug debts.
Passing sentence at Truro Crown Court, Mr Justice Mackay told Haigh he was an “arrogant young man” who had got out of his depth in the criminal underworld.
“These were bad men but they were bad men with the right not to be killed because trading in drugs does not carry the death penalty,” he said. “You were attracted to the gangster way of life, you convinced yourself you were a big boy playing in the big league. But I found your erratic behaviour made you unsuited to this elusive trade.
“This was no more than a result of your chosen lifestyle. You knew the rules of the criminal club you joined and you broke them.”
Haigh and Stone’s four-week trial heard that the victims were gangland enforcers working for an IRA gang which “ran” Liverpool’s illegal drugs trade.
The jury took less than three hours to find Haigh guilty of two counts of murder. Stone had previously pleaded guilty to two charges of obstructing a coroner.
Haigh, who served nine months in a young offenders’ institution in 2005 and 2006 for dealing in heroin and crack cocaine, was on the run at the time of the shooting on June 16 last year.
While living in Workington, he had skipped a court appearance in Carlisle, Cumbria the previous March for possession of an air gun because he was in Brazil smuggling cocaine back to the UK.
He showed no emotion as the judge said the pressure he was under from Griffiths and his “role model” Flournoy was “no mitigation” for the crimes he had committed.
The trial heard that after Haigh killed the two men he fled to Yorkshire before eventually handing himself in to police.