Luc Barker, 29, and Brian Goldsmith, 47, were both found guilty of murdering 31-year-old Gavin Moon in a flat in Washington earlier this year
Two men who callously murdered a father-of-two and left his body in a flat for 24 hours have been handed life sentences.
Luc Barker, 29, and Brian Goldsmith, 47, each used a large knife to fatally wound 31-year-old Gavin Moon following a disturbance in a Washington flat earlier this year.
They both then left the Trafalgar Road flat – where Moon had been temporarily residing with Barker – and did not contact police until the following day.
A murder investigation was launched in January after officers found the victim with a stab wound to his side which had cut through his rib, liver and heart.
Barker and Goldsmith both denied murder, but were each found guilty on Tuesday (July 16) by a jury following a three-week trial at Newcastle Crown Court.
Today (Monday), they were back in the dock for sentencing. A judge sentenced Goldsmith to life imprisonment and ordered him to serve a minimum of 18 years behind bars, while Barker was told he must serve a minimum of 16 years in jail.
Detective Chief Inspector John Bent, of Northumbria Police, said: “This was a callous murder and the sentences reflect the gravity of the offence.
“Barker and Goldsmith insisted their innocence throughout and that was the final insult to Mr Moon’s family, who had to go through the heartache and pain of losing their loved one all over again during the trial.
“With an investigation like this, it’s always difficult for the family of the deceased – but it has been even harder for Mr Moon’s family given one of the defendants, Barker, had been a friend of the victim for some time.
“Throughout the trial whilst insisting his innocence, Barker portrayed himself as a ‘best friend’ of Mr Moon when clearly his actions had been so heartless, leaving the victim inside the flat and not summoning assistance for 24 hours.
“I hope today’s sentencing can give Mr Moon’s family some kind of justice, and I would like to thank them for their incredible bravery and cooperation shown throughout.”
A court heard Moon was last seen entering a shop on Waterloo Road at around 10.45am on January 7 where he bought a number of items, including a scratch card.
The following day, police were contacted after a neighbour rang 999 claiming he had been told by Barker that Gavin’s body had been found inside the flat.
A murder investigation was launched, and police initially arrested Barker – who was at the flat when officers arrived – on suspicion of murder.
Detectives then carried out house-to-house enquiries and followed a CCTV trail that placed Barker with Goldsmith on the morning of Gavin’s killing.
Officers also seized footage of Goldsmith boarding a bus at Waterloo Place shortly after the incident, in which he had changed his clothing.
An extensive operation was launched to locate Goldsmith, who handed himself in at Southwick Police Station days later.
“The early arrest of Barker was crucial in this case,” Det Ch Insp Bent said. “He became quite cagey at the scene and refused to hand over his clothing or mobile phone to police, and that was the first step in determining what had gone on, and ultimately, who was responsible.
“This was a quick, fast-moving case that involved all the tools in the box – particularly during the manhunt for Goldsmith.
“It has been a fantastic team effort to bring these two individuals to justice, and has highlighted the professionalism and dedication of an experienced team of detectives.”
Barker, of Trafalgar Road, Sunderland, and Goldsmith, of Wayman Street, Sunderland were charged with murder but denied the offence.
Both defendants stated Mr Moon had reacted angrily after returning home and discovering they had stolen a quantity of drugs that belonged to him.
Goldsmith claimed his actions were in self-defence, while Barker denied seeing a knife.
But both defendants were found guilty of murder following a three-week trial. Today (Monday) Goldsmith was sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to serve a minimum of 18 years, while Barker was told he must serve at least 16 years in jail.
In a statement released after the pair's conviction, Mr Moon’s family said: “Gavin’s murder has left a hole in our family that cannot be filled.
“The trial of Barker and Goldsmith has been a painful process for our family to go through as we endured details of how Gavin came to die.
“As a family we thank the jury for their verdicts in this case. No sentence can reflect the pain we feel as a family however knowing that justice has been served brings some comfort."