Derby man who stored friend’s body in freezer jailed for two years | Derby #Derby #man #stored #friends #body #freezer #jailed #years #Derby

A man who stored a friend’s body in a freezer for two years after being “overcome with grief” over his death has been jailed.

Damion Johnson was sentenced to two years in prison after admitting to preventing the lawful and decent burial of the body of John Wainwright, as well as three counts of fraud.

Derby crown court heard on Tuesday that Wainwright, 71, died in September 2018 and was not found until August 2020 in the freezer on the premises of a skip company.

Prosecutor Darron Whitehead said Johnson, 53, had known Wainwright for 27 years and moved in with him into a flat in Holloway Head, Birmingham, in 2015 as his carer.

The pair were described by a friend as having a “strong friendship”, and Johnson regarded Wainwright as a father figure, telling police after his arrest that he was “overcome by grief” over his death.

Whitehead said: “The defendant says he was not thinking rationally and was not ready to let go of Mr Wainwright. As time passed, he had been unable to inform the authorities.”

On 25 September 2018, Johnson ordered a chest freezer measuring approximately 2ft by 3ft, costing £462.

Johnson told relatives and friends that Wainwright had died and that the funeral had already taken place, but did not inform the emergency services or obtain a death certificate.

At one stage, a friend of Wainwright stayed at the flat while the pensioner’s body was stored in the freezer in the same room.

In December 2019, the defendant was arrested for unrelated matters, and while police did not search the property they barred Johnson from returning, and the flat was boarded up on 6 December with the freezer unplugged inside.

Several people later visited the flat to conduct safety checks and noted a strong smell, described as “horrendous” and “unbearable”.

On 21 August 2020, a removal team took the freezer away, and while noting the smell, mistook this for rotting food before Wainwright’s body was found by staff at Budget Skips Services in Exhall, Warwickshire.

A postmortem noted signs of blunt force trauma, but Whitehead said: “It was not possible to confirm or exclude natural disease as a cause or contributor to death.”

Whitehead said that from September 2018 to May 2020, Johnson also used Wainwright’s bank card to buy goods and withdraw cash worth £17,000 and made 11 transfers to his bank account worth an additional £2,475.

Johnson initially admitted preventing a burial but denied fraud in May this year, before pleading guilty to the fraud offences in August.

Raglan Ashton, mitigating, said Johnson had previously worked as a carer and a healthcare assistant at the Royal Derby hospital and had an “informal agreement” with Wainwright that whoever died first would still be able to access the funds, which were in a joint account.

Jailing Johnson, of Derby, Judge Shaun Smith KC said preventing a burial was an “unusual offence” but that he was “not suggesting at all” that the defendant had any involvement in Wainwright’s death.

Johnson was jailed for two years for preventing a burial, and was given concurrent six-month sentences for each of the three fraud charges.

#Derby #man #stored #friends #body #freezer #jailed #years #Derby

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