Case: Ian Sutherland: Betrayed for his benefits
Ian Sutherland
John Huggins
Mark Saunders
Status: Solved
Categories: Drug Related, Robbery
Case synopsis:

As he was led to the cells after being jailed for 30 years for the torture and murder of his friend Ian Sutherland, John ‘Frankie’ Huggins screamed ‘They might as well take me out and hang me.’

Huggins and henchman Mark Saunders had imprisoned ‘mild mannered’ Liverpudlian Mr Sutherland in his West London council flat and subjected him to a series of savage beatings.

The victim – who Huggins described during the trial as ‘my one friend in Harlesden’ – suffered 18 broken ribs and a broken breast bone, causing him to suffocate.

Harrowing medical testimony read to the Old Bailey jury revealed that Mr Sutherland’s genitals were crushed as the killers tried to force him to reveal his credit card details.

The evidence in the trial suggested their sole motive was to make the defenceless 43-year-old hand over just £60 in benefit money so they could buy drugs.

‘Bully’ Huggins later tried to intimidate a key witness in the trial, bragging that ‘the f*cking c*nt was dead’, before warning her: ‘I hope you made a no comment statement.’

Mr Sutherland was born in Liverpool, the eldest of three boys, and trained as a mining engineer.

He moved to London in 1985 but became hooked on drugs – falling in with fellow users including lorry driver Huggins, 46, and petty criminal Saunders, 42.

The court heard Huggins regularly took money from the ‘placid’ victim – who received a small allowance from his parents, as well as state benefits.

On February 4 2008, three weeks before the murder, he kidnapped Mr Sutherland and locked him in his flat in Rucklidge Ave, Harlesden, nw London, demanding £60 to replace money he had forgotten to take out of a cashpoint after withdrawing it.

Mr Sutherland managed to escape on February 6, and told friends he had been imprisoned and attacked, but did not go to police.

On February 27, Huggins and Saunders headed to Mr Sutherland's flat in Sellons Ave, Harlesden, where they kicked and stamped him to death.

The body was found two days later when neighbours complained about a smell of gas coming from his flat.

John HugginsHuggins (pictured right) was arrested on March 2 on suspicion of the killing but was released on bail.

On March 16, he approached mutual friend who had also been interviewed by police following the discovery of the body.

The witness told the court: 'I was on my own. Frank came up to me and he said: "We need to talk."

'I said: "You aren't meant to be in Harlesden," and he said: "No, that's why I've got my hood on and my glasses are off."'

A drunk and aggressive Huggins then told her: ‘I hope you made a no comment statement.’

The witness asked him: ‘Was Ian dead when you left him?’ and he replied ‘Yeah, the f*cking c*nt was dead.

‘Don't say too much anyway.’

Huggins was arrested for the second time on March 18, and charged with murder.

He and Saunders were later unanimously convicted of murder, following a seven week trial at the Old Bailey.

Huggins was also convicted of false imprisonment and intimidating a witness.

In his defence, Huggins claimed he would never hurt the victim who was his 'one friend.'

He said: 'I would describe him as passive, he's not an aggressive guy. He was about the one friend I had in Harlesden.'

Mark SaundersCarey Johnstone, prosecuting, told the court Saunders (pictured right) had a long-standing grudge against Mr Sutherland and believed he had 'grassed him up' to police after a burglary in 2004.

Passing sentence, Judge David Paget, QC, told the two men: 'This was a brutal murder. Ian Sutherland was 43, he was a placid, inoffensive man.

'He received £98.45 per week in incapacity benefit, and his parents gave him £30 per week and other small sums from time to time.

'It all went into his Halifax account, and he would withdraw money using his debit card when he needed it.

'The evidence is that he was careful with his money, and never in debt, and because he was placid and had money, you and other drug addicts preyed on him.

'There is evidence that you tried to get him to give you his pin number, and there were several attempts to use his card.

'He was most brutally killed. He suffered multiple injuries consistent with a prolonged beating during the fatal attack.'

The judge said that the injuries to Mr Sutherland's genitals, probably caused by kicks, must have been inflicted while he was alive because of the bruising.

'He must have suffered terrible pain,' he said.

He added: 'There are two aggravating features: the vulnerability of the victim and his physical suffering. I can find, I'm afraid, no mitigating features.

'This was a prolonged beating, and by the time his ribcage was crushed there must have been an intention to kill.'

As he was taken to the cells, bespectacled Huggins shouted abuse at the jury, yelling: 'I'll appeal against this, don't worry. They've got the right one, but not me.

'They might as well take me out and hang me out the back. You f***ing load of c***s.'

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