Killers who locked their victim in a box to die after subjecting a man to a “savage” attack over £20 now face life behind bars. The two 23-year-olds, Louis Whelan and Anthony Keating, fiercely beat Blaine Hammond, 22, who died from his injuries after they sped off on a moped. They left his body packed in a padlocked green box after failing to alert emergency services in time to save Mr Hammond’s life, police said.
Whelan and Keating stamped, punched and kicked their victim in the head and neck, leaving him with grievous head injuries and brain damage.
They left him in the front room of Whelan’s Sunderland home before riding away and later returning to find Mr Hammond at “death’s door”.
When Whelan returned, he found the victim crumpled on the ground and appealed for help via Facebook.
In a message posted to the platform, he asked friends to call an ambulance for Mr Hammond, who was “still breathing”.
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The message, presented to Newcastle Crown Court, saw Whelan explain he “smashed him all over” after he “took my £20”.
He asked: “He’s still breathing, will you phone an ambulance”.
In a second message, he added: “He just tried to nick £20 off me so I just brayed him all over and he is f***ing dying like, need an ambulance.”
Prosecutors accused Whelan and Keating of failing to call an ambulance until Mr Hammond “had been dead for some hours”.
Peter Glenser KC told jurors that Whelan “left his address and dragged Blaine Hammond across the road” and placed him in a “green cabin” where he “was to meet his premature death”.
He added that Whelan returned after eight minutes but did not call an ambulance until the following morning at 9.30am.
Mr Glenser added that Whelan had “showed an utterly callous disregard for his welfare” and “cared more about keeping a distance between himself and Blaine” than “ensuring help came”.
Police found Mr Hammond’s body near an allotment on December 3, 2021, stuffed into a box following an anonymous tip.
They launched “extensive CCTV, house-to-house and forensic enquiries” before charging the two with murder.
Whelan and Keating denied murdering their victim, but they now face life behind bars.
Jurors found the pair guilty in an 11-1 verdict, and a judge has said they will receive a sentence “fixed by law”.
Following the verdict, Mr Justice Morris said: “You have been found guilty of murder and the sentence for murder is fixed by law and it’s a life sentence.”
He added he would sentence the two at a “later date to be arranged”, adding he would decide a minimum term for them to serve before they could be “considered for release on licence”.
Detective Chief Inspector Sharon Chatterton, the senior investigating officer, condemned the “shocking and brutal attack” on Mr Hammond.
She said the pair left his family “without a son, brother, nephew, uncle, grandson and a dear friend”.
Detective Chatterton added: “No result will ever take away the pain of what’s happened, but hopefully this guilty verdict today gives the family some closure.”