Three men and a teenager convicted of murdering a
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Three men and a teenager convicted of murdering a ‘gentle and peaceful’ student at a New Year’s Eve party by viciously beating him unconscious and then throwing his body over a balcony have been jailed for life today.

A court heard William ‘Billy’ Henham’s attackers also callously stripped him naked and doused him in bleach in a bid to ‘cover their tracks’ by destroying any forensic evidence.

Just a few hours before his brutal death, the 24-year-old had been seen ‘singing, dancing and smiling’ in a Brighton nightclub.

However, by dawn on January 1, 2020 he had been subjected to the ‘sustained and significant’ fatal assault involving punches, kicks, stamps, and even blows from a broken stair spindle, leaving him with 67 separate injuries.

Three men and a teenager convicted of murdering a 'gentle and peaceful' student at a New Year's Eve party by viciously beating him unconscious and then throwing his body over a balcony have been jailed for life today. Pictured: The last sighting of 24-year-old William 'Billy' Henham

Three men and a teenager convicted of murdering a 'gentle and peaceful' student at a New Year's Eve party by viciously beating him unconscious and then throwing his body over a balcony have been jailed for life today. Pictured: The last sighting of 24-year-old William 'Billy' Henham

Three men and a teenager convicted of murdering a ‘gentle and peaceful’ student at a New Year’s Eve party by viciously beating him unconscious and then throwing his body over a balcony have been jailed for life today. Pictured: The last sighting of 24-year-old William ‘Billy’ Henham

Three of the killers are seen partying on the balcony of a building. William 'Billy' Henham, 24, was left with 67 separate injuries after the 'sustained and significant' assault

Three of the killers are seen partying on the balcony of a building. William 'Billy' Henham, 24, was left with 67 separate injuries after the 'sustained and significant' assault

Three of the killers are seen partying on the balcony of a building. William ‘Billy’ Henham, 24, was left with 67 separate injuries after the ‘sustained and significant’ assault

Mr Henham (above) studied film and photography at Ravensbourne University in south east London and lived with his parents in Henfield, West Sussex

Mr Henham (above) studied film and photography at Ravensbourne University in south east London and lived with his parents in Henfield, West Sussex

Mr Henham (above) studied film and photography at Ravensbourne University in south east London and lived with his parents in Henfield, West Sussex

A court heard these included 11 rib fractures to both sides of his body, extensive bruising to his scalp, face and neck, a deep cut to his forehead and brain injury.

Mr Henham, who had taken a break from his film and photography studies at Ravensbourne University in south east London and lived with his parents in Henfield, West Sussex, was then dropped over balcony railings from a height of just under 11ft.

His clothing, apart from his red Puma trainers, was never recovered.

Traces of disinfectant were later found in his hair and bloodstained areas in the building where he had been beaten also appeared to have been ‘diluted’.

Gregory Hawley, 29, Dushane Meikle, 28, Lamech Gordon-Carew, who turns 21 tomorrow, and 19-year-old Alize Spence all denied murder but were unanimously found guilty.

None of the four knew or had previously met Mr Henham, and none gave police or the court an explanation as to what happened that night.

But the prosecution said each had either ‘joined in or encouraged’ the assault on him.

Passing life sentences Mr Justice Cavanagh said Hawley and Meikle will serve minimum terms of 25 years before being considered for parole.

Gordon-Carew and Spence were handed minimum terms of 18 years.

A jury at Maidstone Crown Court, Kent, was told that despite the severity of his injuries, Mr Henham would have been alive for at least an hour after the violent attack.

His battered, lifeless body was eventually discovered by police on the evening of January 2 2020 laying in a recess area on a roof terrace at the former office block, hotel and restaurant complex.

The building in North Street had been occupied by squatters at the time, with up to 50 people attending the New Year’s Eve party.

Dushane Meikle, 28

Dushane Meikle, 28

18-year-old Alize Spence

18-year-old Alize Spence

Dushane Meikle (pictured left), 28, and 18-year-old Alize Spence (right) were convicted of Mr Henham’s murder along with two others

Gregory Hawley, 29,

Gregory Hawley, 29,

Lamech Gordon-Carew, 20

Lamech Gordon-Carew, 20

Gregory Hawley (left), 29, and Lamech Gordon-Carew (right), 20, were also convicted of Mr Henham’s murder. None of the four knew or had previously met the student

One resident later recalled hearing a man screaming in pain from a room he described in court as ‘the torture chamber’.

The judge said in his sentencing remarks at Hove Crown Court today/yesterday (FRI): ‘The effect of Bill Henham’s murder on his family has been devastating. Their grief is relentless.

‘Both of his parents have had to give up work. For the past two and a half years they have existed, not lived. Their emotions have ranged from horror and shock to absolute pain and then to total anger.

‘In respect of each of you, there is only one sentence that the law allows me to pass for the offence of murder. It is a life sentence.

‘This was an assault on a defenceless young man, made vulnerable by his intoxication. There were four of you: this was a group attack on a single victim.

‘The extreme brutality of the assault and the sustained nature of it is indicated by the sheer number of injuries, including 11 broken ribs, a deep wound to your victim’s forehead and brain injuries.

‘I do not sentence you on the basis that the murder was sadistic – if I had done so, the starting point for three of you would have been much higher – but the wholly disproportionate and gratuitous violence is one of the most unpleasant aspects of the offence, and the ferocity and vigour with which the beating was carried out were not far short of sadistic.

‘This was a merciless attack, involving the deliberate infliction of pain and suffering over a lengthy period.

Ian and Debbie Henham broke down in tears as they paid tribute to their son, describing him as a 'gentle, kind, young man'

Ian and Debbie Henham broke down in tears as they paid tribute to their son, describing him as a 'gentle, kind, young man'

Ian and Debbie Henham broke down in tears as they paid tribute to their son, describing him as a ‘gentle, kind, young man’

‘You caused a very great deal of mental and physical suffering to your victim, and persisted in the assault whilst fully aware of the pain and damage that you were causing to him. There was evidence that your victim was screaming whilst you attacked him in the small room. He had injuries on his hands and arms which suggests that he was trying to protect himself whilst the assault took place.

‘By the time that the assault ended, you had come to a joint decision to kill your victim and to conceal evidence of your

involvement – placing his body in a dank and dirty recess, and removing all of his clothing.

‘None of you has expressed any remorse for your actions.’

The three-month trial heard that Hawley, who ‘ran’ the squat, was seen on New Year’s Day with a container of disinfectant and a cloth, saying ‘We killed someone last night’ and having to ‘clean up the mess’.

He also confessed to his mother’s then partner how he had seen Mr Henham take his last breath, while Gordon-Carew boasted to others about what they had done.

Gordon-Carew, of Cheeseman Close, Hampton, Middlesex, Hawley, of no fixed address, and Spence, of Makepeace Road, Northolt, Middlesex, were arrested at another squat in Brighton the day after Mr Henham’s body had been discovered.

When Meikle, of Amberley Drive, Hove, was arrested on January 9 2020 police seized his phone and found two macabre, deleted photos of Mr Henham’s body – one of him partially clothed on the roof terrace, the other of him naked.

Although the motive for the murder was said by the prosecution to be ‘unclear’, the jury heard Hawley told another squatter Mr Henham had been killed for being ‘lairy and mouthy’ at the party.

At the start of their trial, prosecutor James Mulholland QC told the court: ‘William Henham was subjected to a sustained assault before his body was dropped over a balcony.

‘He was found naked, laying on his back on a low-level outdoor roof terrace.

Following the verdicts, Sussex Police issued a statement on behalf of Mr Henham's family, reading: 'Bill, our son and Rory's brother, was cruelly and coldly taken from us on the morning of January 1, 2020'. Pictured: Police officers on scene following the murder

Following the verdicts, Sussex Police issued a statement on behalf of Mr Henham's family, reading: 'Bill, our son and Rory's brother, was cruelly and coldly taken from us on the morning of January 1, 2020'. Pictured: Police officers on scene following the murder

Following the verdicts, Sussex Police issued a statement on behalf of Mr Henham’s family, reading: ‘Bill, our son and Rory’s brother, was cruelly and coldly taken from us on the morning of January 1, 2020’. Pictured: Police officers on scene following the murder

‘Shortly after his death, two of the defendants – Gregory Hawley and Lamech Gordon-Carew – boasted to others about what they had done to Mr Henham.

‘Each defendant either joined in the physical attack upon William Henham or deliberately helped or encouraged one or more of the others to do so.’

Blood stains in the building revealed Mr Henham was attacked in one room and then dragged to another on a lower floor, where the beating continued before he was thrown unconscious over the railings, stripped and left to die.

Having all been arrested by Sussex Police, the four then suspects were released within a few days and not charged with murder until May last year.

They were linked to Mr Henham’s brutal death through phone data, DNA, fingerprints, bloodstained clothing and trainer marks.

Handout photo issued by Sussex Police of Dushane Meikle's coat forensically linked to Bill Henham

Handout photo issued by Sussex Police of Dushane Meikle's coat forensically linked to Bill Henham

Handout photo issued by Sussex Police of Dushane Meikle’s coat forensically linked to Bill Henham

Only Hawley and Gordon-Carew gave evidence at trial. They both maintained they did not see Mr Henham at the party, were unaware of any assault taking place, and had no involvement in his death.

Meikle, a drill music producer, told police that he had found Mr Henham’s naked body while exploring the building.

He said he gave it a nudge but there was no response and so he returned to the party.

Mr Henham’s father Ian, mother Debbie and brother Rory attended court every day.

Mr Henham had spent Christmas with his family but wanted to see in the new year in a ‘lively’ atmosphere, the court heard.

He was dropped off in Brighton by his father at about 7.30pm and by 2am was at the Concorde 2 nightclub, where a doorman later described him as being ‘happy, jigging about in a world of his own, and causing no harm to anyone’.

The last CCTV sighting of Mr Henham was at 4.30am on New Year’s Day outside the All Sorts off-licence.

The store was diagonally opposite the squat where he would die just a few hours later.

Subsequent tests showed that although he would have been three times the drink-drive limit, he had not taken any drugs.

His father recalled in court that when he had dropped his son off that night, he was ‘in a positive mood and just wanted to have a nice evening’.

The family issued a statement after the sentencing.

They said: ‘Bill, our son and Rory’s brother, was cruelly and coldly taken from us on the morning of January 1 2020. It is hard to describe the horror of losing a family member to murder, especially in such a brutal and needless way. We cannot fathom as to why anyone would inflict such cruelty on someone so helpless.

‘In the weeks before his death, Bill had been living with us at home whilst taking a break from his studies at Ravensbourne University in London, where he studied digital film production. His love of art, films and film-making has left us with many examples of his creativity.

His body was discovered by police on the evening of January 2 laying in a recess area on a roof terrace at a former office block, hotel and restaurant complex. Pictured: the disused building where Billy was found

His body was discovered by police on the evening of January 2 laying in a recess area on a roof terrace at a former office block, hotel and restaurant complex. Pictured: the disused building where Billy was found

His body was discovered by police on the evening of January 2 laying in a recess area on a roof terrace at a former office block, hotel and restaurant complex. Pictured: the disused building where Billy was found

‘He was a kind and peaceful young man; a free spirit who happily chatted to those he came across. We can well imagine, in his impaired and vulnerable condition that night, he was drawn towards the squat party and went into the North Street building not understanding the danger he was putting himself in. 

‘In CCTV pictures we’ve seen of him, across the road from the squat, it hurts not to be able to make him hear our cries, warning him not to go in.

‘These past two years have been hard for us and others, and we are very grateful for all of the kindness we have been shown, especially in what has been such a challenging few years for many. 

‘We are indebted to all of the court officers, the Crown Prosecution Service, and all of the members of the jury who we know have made personal sacrifices to see this prolongated trial through. Our gratitude is also extended to all the expert witnesses, as well as our brilliant and committed prosecution team.

‘Our biggest thanks are reserved for all of the officers of Sussex Police who have helped us. So many were involved in so many different ways, all striving for the justice Bill deserves. Words alone cannot express our gratitude for their service.

‘The events of that night have left us with a Bill shaped void in our lives.. We’ll strive not to cry too often, but instead smile when we remember his short life especially because he shared it with us.

‘We are so angry for what these men did and grateful for the justice they will receive. Sadly however, no sentence will give us Bill back and more importantly it won’t give him the chance to make his mark on the world and follow his dreams in a way that we all strive to do.

‘Over time, our memories will likely dim and we will forget some of the things he said to us and some of the things he did but we will never forget how he made us feel.’

Detective Superintendent Alex Geldart said: ‘Bill was a kind and gentle young man; out enjoying the New Year celebrations when his life was brutally brought to an end. We never gave up hope that we would finally hold to account those responsible for Bill’s murder.

‘We conducted a lengthy and complex investigation involving a huge number of enquiries and forensic work to bring this case to court. Today’s sentencing of the four men convicted of Bill’s murder is a reflection of the senseless and tragic loss of life. They will now face many years in prison and we hope Bill’s family will be able to find some closure, knowing that his killers are finally behind bars.’ 

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