A man found guilty of murdering former Manea man William (Billy Boy) Martindale has been jailed for a minimum of 23 years.
Paul Groves (34), of Queensway, Ongar, Essex, denied murdering Mr Martindale (39) at a remote Essex farm last September 7 but was found guilty on Thursday at Chelmsford Crown Court and sentenced by a judge on Friday.
Mr Martindale, who grew up in Manea and went to the Cromwell Community College in Chatteris, died from severe head injuries after being punched unconscious and then battered to death by Groves with a pick-axe handle following a row over drugs.
Groves was also given a concurrent sentence of ten years for attacking Paul Meeking (54), of Barking.
Mr Justice Sweeney told Groves: “You used severe force causing terrible injuries to Mr Martindale’s head. At the time he was unconscious. You took a muscled assistant and never revealed that man’s identity although you knew it.”
Groves claimed he carried out the attack because he was scared he was going to be killed by Mr Martindale, who he said had bragged of being a gangster and criminal.
Groves claimed in court that he thought Mr Martindale was armed with a shotgun or machete and was going to shoot him, It was claimed he acted in self defence and panicked and struck Mr Martindale.
Following the verdict senior investigating officer, DI Marina Ericson, said they were “delighted” with the verdict.
“The evidence heard throughout the trial demonstrated the level of violence used by Paul Groves when he brutally attacked both Billy Martindale and Paul Meeking.
“Paul Groves is a violent man whose intention to cause serious harm to both Mr Martindale and Mr Meeking has been proven,” said DI Ericson.
“Our thoughts continue to go out to Billy’s family and friends at this time. We hope this verdict will provide them with some comfort and allow them to move on with their lives, following what has been a very distressing period for them.”
Mr Martindale left behind his partner, Tina Joseph (35) and their three children. They had been partners for 17 years. They lived in Chigwell for the first five of these years before moving to Ongar where Mr Martindale became a car dealer.
He had aspirations of becoming a big-name actor and did feature in the movie, Big Fat Gypsy Gangster.
After the verdict, Tina Joseph, said: “These past few months have been quiet and we have certainly felt the loss of Billy. Our lives are empty without him as he brought character to our day.
“He had a bubbly personality and I am so angry that his dispute with Paul Groves got out of hand and left my children fatherless.
“My children and I would like to thank other members of the family, friends and neighbours who have supported or offered support throughout the past eight months.
“They have been invaluable. We miss Billy dearly and life isn’t the same without him.
“After this verdict and Paul Groves’ sentencing, we can hopefully rebuild our lives and plan for the future. We must not dwell on the past.”
Groves must serve at least 23 years before he is eligible to apply for parole.