The five killers of Joseph McKeever included a drug boss, jet setting dealer and a lying mechanic

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Five men have now been convicted of killing Joseph McKeever in one of the most brutal crimes in the history of this city.

The dad-of-one was interrogated by crooks over £900,000 of missing cannabis after a drug importation plot went wrong.

And when the dealers didn’t get the answers they wanted, the 54-year-old was subjected to “nothing less than torture”.

Police discovered his battered body in the boot of a stolen Ford Focus, set ablaze on wasteland off Wyre Road in Everton, by “ruthless” crooks.

Mr McKeever, from Walton, had suffered two “shattered” kneecaps, broken eye sockets, brain damage, a crushed voice box and was strangled at least twice with a ligature.

Four men had already been jailed over his killing, with a fifth man, Dylan Owen, locked up for assisting an offender, at previous trials at Liverpool Crown Court.

Now they will be joined by Lee Knox, the “boss” who directed a “violent interrogation” when the consignment was seized by customs.

Mr McKeever endured a “remorseless attack” in a shipping container at MGM Garage in Kensington on the evening of June 14, 2017.

He was taken to a flat in Picton Crescent, Wavertree, where he died in the early hours of June 15.

Here are the roles each of the gang played in the events surrounding the Everton fan’s gruesome death.

The young mechanic claimed he and his business associate Knox struck a deal with Mr McKeever for the victim to import 50kg of cannabis from Spain.

Grimes said the load failed to arrive on June 12, which led to hours of talks at the Royal Oak pub in Walton on June 13.

Mr McKeever was last seen alive entering a shipping container used by Grimes as an office at MGM Garage with Grimes, Knox and Anthony Wales.

Grimes said he repeatedly punched Mr McKeever and tied him up after he was patronising to him when asked about the missing load.

However, he claimed the victim only had a black eye and could still talk and walk when he was taken to Picton Crescent.

CCTV showed Grimes collecting a tool and strapping after the victim was detained, gathering plastic sheeting and clearing out a van to transport him, which he reversed up to the container, then ensuring a faulty rear light was fixed, so they wouldn’t be stopped by the police.

It wasn’t suggested Grimes was involved in any violence at the flat, but after Mr McKeever died he returned to the garage and cleaned the container with oil, then tried to wipe CCTV footage, but failed.

He and Knox fled Merseyside, driving south, and by 8.30pm boarded a Eurostar train to France.

Knox, who said his close friend Grimes drove him around because he was banned from the road, suggested the mechanic was wrongly convicted.

But the High Court judge who oversaw the first two of three trials, Mr Justice William Davis, said Grimes was “directly involved” in the “sustained beating” against Mr McKeever.

Kelly, then 32, of Snaefell Avenue, Old Swan, was pictured smirking when arrested by police in the wake of the murder.

During the first trial, Kelly suggested he was a mere “street dealer” and did not have any knowledge of the “missing load”.

The dad-of-one claimed he agreed to a “meeting” at his friend Darren Colecozy’s flat and both of them had no idea that the victim would be taken there.

Kelly said he earlier went to the garage in Brecon Street on June 14 merely to sell Knox £50 of cannabis.

But Colecozy accused him of being a “fake friend” and a “high level” dealer, who knew full well about the drug importation scheme and brought a dying man to his home.

James Wood, QC, defending Colecozy, said Kelly lived “a very expensive and rich life” and “travelled an enormous amount”.

He went on a family holiday to Croatia when police released him on bail and previously in the space of just three years visited Jamaica twice, Dubai twice, Ibiza once, and took two trips to Las Vegas, with “ringside seats” for a Floyd Mayweather fight.

Kelly said he used to have a business, Liverpool Event Crew, and denied paying for his carer girlfriend’s £500-a-month Audi Q5 with drug money.

He said he only made “a couple of hundred pounds” a week from selling cannabis, but bought designer clothes from “a contact in Italy” and sold them on Instagram, which could rake in up to £10,000 a month.

Justice Davis said Kelly was a liar, who was clearly recruited to provide somewhere for Mr McKeever to be held, because Knox wouldn’t have called him to the garage to buy a small amount of cannabis.

The judge said Kelly helped dispose of Mr McKeever’s body, then ditched one of his mobile phones and lied to police about not being aware of any death at the flat.

Colecozy, then 23, from Wavertree, was a rapper who had made around 25 music videos under the name ‘Capz’.

He accepted being a cannabis dealer and using the Twitter alias Rayful Capz – a nod to notorious American cocaine kingpin Rayful Edmond.

Colecozy had been a promising footballer, who starred for Liverpool Schoolboys and was a youth player for Tranmere Rovers FC.

But he was also responsible for “cowardly” bullying of an ex-girlfriend and threats against her gran, which led to a string of convictions.

The Manchester-born musician claimed Kelly brought Mr McKeever to his sparsely furnished flat – which he denied was a drugs den – without his consent.

He suggested he and Kelly feared cocaine-fuelled Knox and Wales, who interrogated Mr McKeever, and that no violence took place in his property.

However, at one stage he had sent his girlfriend a message saying “It’s like a f***ing Power episode” – a US crime drama involving drugs and torture.

Police later found the victim’s blood on kitchen walls, a microwave and on a mattress, which had seemingly been doused in petrol, in the living room.

Colecozy said Knox discussed chopping up Mr McKeever and he talked them out of burning his flat down with petrol provided by Grimes.

Branding the other men “psychopaths”, Colecozy denied the suggestion that petrol had been used to torture Mr McKeever.

Justice Davis said Colecozy knew he would be guarding Mr McKeever, adding: “He cannot have been an innocent dupe.”

He said he had a “strong suspicion” Colecozy and Kelly had an interest in the imported cannabis, but couldn’t be certain.

The judge said: “They did nothing to help Mr McKeever. Why would they if they were simply making sure he did not do anything?”

He said neither man was too scared and they both encouraged Knox and Wales in their attack.

Justice Davis said Kelly’s account that Knox sent men to help remove the victim’s body was “not credible” and he or Colecozy arranged it.

He said: “They were responsible for the dreadful way in which Mr McKeever’s body was removed from the flat.”

Owen, then 23, was charged over the killing of Mr McKeever, but was found not guilty of false imprisonment, murder or manslaughter.

The civil engineer, of Paul McCartney Way, Kensington, was however convicted for his role in setting fire to Mr McKeever’s black Renault Megane and murderer Grimes’ Citroen Nemo van in the wake of the killing.

The court heard he was a friend of Grimes, with “no real criminal background”, who spent a lot of time at the garage fixing motorbikes.

He used petrol to destroy each vehicle, torching the Citroen on a field off the M57 and burning out the Megane in Newsham Park in Fairfield.

Justice Davis said: “He did all of that knowing full well the purpose was to cover up a murder in which his friend was involved.”

The judge said he destroyed two vehicles “of considerable significance” to the murder and “went to some trouble to do so”.

Justice Davis added: “His family and a workmate have provided descriptions of his normal behaviour which was perfectly decent.

“None of that removes this offence of assisting an offender from the upper end of seriousness.”

Anthony Wales pleaded guilty to the murder and false imprisonment of Joseph McKeever at a second trial in January 2019.

Wales, then 37, from Everton, was one of the men who inflicted horrific injuries to Mr McKeever in the container.

Knox described the convicted robber and drug dealer as a “hard case”, who he claimed was sent as a representative of the buyers of the drugs, and lost his temper with Mr McKeever after Mr Doyle didn’t turn up at the garage.

Knox branded Wales a “monster” and said he set upon the victim without any warning, punching him repeatedly and tying him up, then later beating his legs with a metal bar fetched by Grimes, and kicking him in the head.

Knox denied that he was the man directing this cocaine-snorting “monster” and said he was “terrified” of Wales – even though he was shown on footage embracing him and sharing a beer together.

Knox claimed this was to try and get Wales on side, but prosecutors said Knox hired Wales to do his bidding as a “dog on a leash”.

Wales helped transport the victim from the garage to Colecozy’s flat, where after relieving himself in the bathroom, he made the crucial mistake of leaving his DNA on the toilet.

It is claimed Mr McKeever earlier revealed that his business associate James Doyle had a unit at an industrial estate in Burscough, where cannabis might be found.

Wales accompanied Knox and Grimes on a fruitless trip to West Lancashire in the dead of night, before returning to the flat, and is said to have been present when Mr McKeever died.

Wales was arrested and interviewed about the murder in August 2017. The dad-of-five made no comment to all questions and was not initially charged.

However, after hearing the prosecution opening and seeing the evidence against him, he decided to plead guilty.

Justice Davis said Wales was recruited by others in “full knowledge” of what was to happen and took part in “ruthless” torture.

Lee Knox was found guilty of murder and false imprisonment at a third trial in January 2021.

The 43-year-old, formerly of Canal View, Melling, escaped to Spain within hours of the killing and spent three years at large.

He was finally arrested in Belfast on April 25, 2020, where he had been living under the false name of Oliver Kennedy, and his murder trial began last month.

Crying in court, he claimed he was a “terrified” witness to the violence and fought to save Mr McKeever’s life by giving him CPR.

The dad-of-two insisted he was “terrorised” alongside his “good friend” by cocaine-snorting Wales and fled the UK in fear.

The self-confessed cannabis dealer said he worked for Mr McKeever and Mr Doyle, who were importing 150 kilos of the drug, and was to be paid £5,000 when it was delivered.

He said he believed Mr Doyle was responsible for a lorry not arriving in Liverpool, which prompted a hunt for the £900,000 cargo, which he tried to help with.

Mr McKeever spent hours with Knox and others at the Royal Oak on June 13, where CCTV footage showed the victim with his hands “as if in prayer” to Knox.

Knox, Mr McKeever and Mr Doyle met at 5am the next day and travelled to Birmingham, seemingly looking for the drugs, only to return empty handed.

Knox drove with the victim to MGM Garage and spent a total of three hours and eight minutes in the container with him, then accompanied Mr McKeever to the flat.

There police discovered a cigarette stub, which revealed the DNA of both Knox and the victim. Knox’s fingerprints were also found in Mr McKeever’s blood on a kitchen wall.

When Knox gave evidence, he said Wales was a representative of the buyers of the drugs, who had become “suspicious”.

He said he thought they were going in the container to talk, adding: “I was going to make everyone a cup of tea.”

Knox said Wales was a “monster” who knocked Mr McKeever to the floor, repeatedly punched him, then tied him up, before later battering his legs with a metal bar and kicking him in the head.

He said he believed his friend Grimes was wrongly convicted of murder and, like him, only did what he was told by “hard case” Wales out of fear, which is why none of them rescued Mr McKeever, even when Wales left to buy some beer.

However, CCTV cameras captured him putting an arm around the shoulder of Wales and sharing a drink with him.

Knox said he had no idea they were going to the flat to drop off Mr McKeever en route to Burscough, which was a “pointless trip”, and when they returned to the flat, he was “exhausted”.

He said he drifted in and out of sleep, only to wake and find Mr McKeever unresponsive at around 5am and attempt CPR.

Knox said he then smoked a cigarette in the kitchen, after doing “his best” all night to try and talk Wales out of the violence.

He said Wales eventually let him and Grimes go, but warned: “Keep your mouth shut or youse know what will happen.”

Knox denied minimising his role in the importation plot, being a drug “boss” who oversaw the murder, or having anything to do with clean up operations and disposing of the body. He said he didn’t go to police because his family would be at risk.

Knox said: “I’m sorry I ran away, I’m sorry I never contacted the police, at that time I wasn’t thinking clearly, I had been through a night of hell, I had been terrorised along with Joseph.”

However, the jury rejected his account and Judge Andrew Menary, QC, said Knox was responsible for the “merciless beating”.

He said Knox was the buyer of the missing cannabis and the leader of the group “calling the shots and directing operations”.

And the judge “rejected completely” the idea that Knox gave Mr McKeever CPR or any kind of assistance.

Source: https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMiY2h0dHBzOi8vd3d3LmxpdmVycG9vbGVjaG8uY28udWsvbmV3cy9saXZlcnBvb2wtbmV3cy9qb3NlcGgtbWNrZWV2ZXIta2lsbGVycy1nYW5nc3RhLXJhcHBlci0xOTY4NTc0M9IBZ2h0dHBzOi8vd3d3LmxpdmVycG9vbGVjaG8uY28udWsvbmV3cy9saXZlcnBvb2wtbmV3cy9qb3NlcGgtbWNrZWV2ZXIta2lsbGVycy1nYW5nc3RhLXJhcHBlci0xOTY4NTc0My5hbXA?oc=5

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