Ex-sergeant coke addict ‘battered’ dealer to death after getting into £53k debt

An ex-Army sergeant and cocaine addict beat his dealer to death after racking up debts of £53,000.

Daniel Shovelton, 40, was spending £1,000 a month on his habit and owed money to drug dealers, his family and businesses.

He targeted "small-time" cocaine dealer and "doting" dad Mark Bradbury, 58 in Warrington, Cheshire, the Liverpool Echo reports.

Liverpool Crown Court jurors were told he had become “desperate” for money and drugs, and saw Mr Bradbury as an “answer to his problems”, the Warrington Guardian reports.

The victim was found at his bungalow in Station Road South, Padgate, at 10pm on Sunday, August 4 last year after being "battered" to death.

Mr Bradbury suffered deep internal bruising and significant injuries to his head from blunt force trauma and strangulation at the hands of Shovelton, 40.

The pair had known each other for around 20 years, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

Prior to the killing, Shovelton had recently been sacked from his job as a delivery driver for stealing.

He was living back with his parents after his home had been repossessed and had resorted to asking his daughter to lend him money.

A police investigation established that Mr Bradbury's last known movements were at Bargain Booze shortly before 6.30pm on Thursday, August 1, where he bought beer and cigarettes before driving home.

He then met with a drug customer at his home, the last known person to have seen him alive, before having a phone call shortly after 7pm.

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His phone was then disconnected from the network and he was never seen, spoken to or heard from again.

Shovelton continued to spend Mr Bradbury's money after the killing, including £27 on scratch cards, and he attempted to source more cocaine.

He also began to repeatedly check the Warrington Guardian newspaper for any updates on the case, and spent time researching the senior investigating officer.

On Thursday, September 5, police arrested Shovelton on suspicion of murder.

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He was released under investigation, but subsequently re-arrested on March 24, and charged with murder two days later on March 25.

Shovelton was found guilty of murder by a jury at Liverpool Crown Court by a majority of 10 to 2 yesterday, September 17.

Judge David Aubrey, QC, said Shovelton, of Saffron Close, Longbarn, Warrington, will be sentenced on Monday, September 21.

Mark's daughter Hannah, 19, paid tribute to her dad following the conviction.

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She said: "Thank you to everyone who has shown support, and to the incredible Cheshire Police over the last 13 months.

"This has been the longest road for justice for my dad, who did not deserve to be taken from us in the most brutal way. This experience will never be forgotten by so many, and in that I hope my dad’s memory will live on in happiness and love."

David Keane, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, said: "This crime shocked the local community and deeply saddened all those who knew Mark.

"My thoughts are with Mark’s daughter Hannah and his family and friends. I hope this conviction gives them some form of comfort in that justice has now been served."

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