A deeply moving impact statement from the family of Lee McKnight has been read to a court as the sentencing hearing for six people convicted of his murder got underway.
Four men, including a father and his teenage son, along with a mother and daughter, are waiting to learn their fate for their respective roles in the brutal killing of 26-year-old Mr McKnight last July.
He was lured in the early hours to a house at Carlisle’s Charles Street in connection with an outstanding drug debt. Almost immediately he was attacked and subjected to a brutal “taxing” in the living room and kitchen which caused terrible injuries.
These, a prosecutor suggested, made him look like “he was a victim of torture”.
Mr McKnight was transported across the city in a black Nissan Navara at around dawn and cruelly dumped in a river while still alive. His body was found soon afterwards by a farmer. Many of his numerous injuries were caused, a pathologist concluded, by a riding crop.
Jamie Davison; Arron Graham, both aged 26; 18-year-old Jamie Lee Roberts; his dad Paul, 51; and mother and daughter Carol, 47, and Coral Edgar, also 26; were all convicted by a jury of a joint murder charge they denied.
Their sentencing hearing began at Carlisle Crown Court today, when an impact statement provided by Mr McKnight’s mother, Wendy, on behalf of the family, was read by a prosecutor. He was also the son of David, had a sister, Donna, and a brother, Robbie.
“Whatever Lee may have done, nobody deserves to go in such a vile, violent and tragic manner. It is hard to believe that he was brutally beaten to an inch of his life and then dumped face down in the river alone. The only comfort we have is that he didn’t die in that awful house on Charles Street,” his mother stated.
“It continually goes through our minds about his last steps over the doorway into that awful house and knowing what was in store for him, the trap and the violence he was about to experience in that torture chamber.”
Mrs McKnight added: “I so miss him being around and find there is a real hole in my heart, having lost him so young. We do get emotional and have low and hollow moments, thinking that things like this happen to other people and not us.
“Dealing with this is so hard and while his memory will always be with us, we hope this pain will ease in time. We do try and go about our lives a normal as we can, but underneath our hearts are broken.”
Prosecutor Timothy Cray QC and barristers representing each of the six defendants made submissions to the judge, Mr Justice Hilliard, this afternoon. The hearing was adjourned and is due to conclude tomorrow.