Brothers convicted of murdering London Colney pensioner

TWO STEP-BROTHERS who lured a London Colney pensioner to a wood where they throttled him with a rope and caved his head in with a hammer were convicted of his murder today (Friday).

Daniel Davies and Troy Schuldt concocted the murder plan believing their victim, Daniel Spires, had �30,000 in a safe.

But when they opened it, the duo discovered one dollar and were reduced to selling Mr Spires’ belongings over the internet.

The 69-year-old was described in court as looking like an “aged rocker” and was nicknamed the Scrap Metal Man. St Albans Crown Court was told Mr Spires had few friends and his killers believed he would not be missed.

But they were caught because they were unable to keep quiet about what they had done. They confessed to others and were arrested, more than three months later, after Mr Spires’ remains were found where he had been left in undergrowth in a wood at Welham Green.

Davies, 24, of Alma Road and his step-brother Schuldt, 20, of no fixed address, denied murder between June 12 and 15 last year.

They were convicted by a jury of eight women and four men after 21 hours and 31 minutes.

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The jury also convicted Davies’ ex-girlfriend Samantha Smith, 21, of Alma Road, of murder and obstructing the coroner by a majority of ten to two.

Smith pleaded guilty to two charges of assisting an offender in relation to Schuldt and was convicted unanimously by the jury of two charges of assisting an offender in relation to Davies.

Schuldt pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and obstructing the coroner. Davies was found guilty of obstructing the coroner.

The defendants were living in Telford Court in St Albans at the time and had been regular visitors to Mr Spires’ address in Cotlandswick in the period leading up to his murder.

Mr Spires’ partially decomposed body was found on September 24.

He was last seen with his large Mercedes Sprinter van on June 13 last year.

Stuart Trimmer QC, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “He bought and sold items and had a metal safe. It is this safe that appears to be a central feature in the murder. These defendants believed it contained �30,000 in cash. That safe was removed after the murder and has not yet been recovered by the police.

“The murder of Daniel Spires was not a spur of the moment event, but a planned crime specifically to take the money they believed to be in the safe and any other items of value which they could sell.”

Emma Blee, who knew the step-brothers, had heard them say they had taken the safe from the wardrobe of Mr Spires’ home but discovered it contained just a dollar.

Schuldt confessed that Mr Spires was tricked into going with him and Davies to the woods when they said they had some catalytic converters to sell to him.

Mr Trimmer said: ““He was attacked there in the van, but not killed. After being throttled with a rope he was dragged out of the van. The rope was tightened using a hammer handle as a tourniquet. He was beaten and kicked and finally the hammer was used to beat his head until he was dead. They did this some way into the undergrowth and then used some nearby foliage to conceal the body.”

After the killing, the defendants placed Mr Spires’ property for sale. They took jewellery from his body, along with his keys, wallet and phone. His van was placed for sale on the Gumtree website. It was eventually swapped for a red VW Polo by Davies, who then put that for sale on Gumtree.

Many other items belonging to the dead man were put up for sale. These included a pressure washer, a suitcase generator, a PC, a flat screen TV, a mini safe and external hard drives.

Schuldt told his step-sister, Hayley Davies: “Me and Daniel killed our mate Danny. He was mugging us off so we took him to the woods and did him over.”

Schuldt confessed he had hit Mr Spires with a hammer and that he and Davies had kicked and punched him.

The pair were arrested after Keely Charlton, Schuldt’s ex-girlfriend, told a friend what she had learned. She passed this information to a college tutor who called the police.

All three defendants are due to be sentenced on Monday.