A Wirral man who killed over a £150 drugs debt was put behind bars for life today and ordered to serve at least 22 years.
A Liverpool Crown Court jury had found Nazzareno Abela guilty of the murder of Mark Reissing, who was dumped on Egremont Promenade in Wallasey after being beaten and fatally stabbed.
The judge said he believed it was intended to be "a punishment beating" but Abela went too far.
The jury cleared another Wallasey man Geoffrey Allen of the murder but convicted him of assisting an offender.
After being fatally injured outside Allen's home in Rice Hey Road, Mr Reissing, believed to have still been alive, was bundled into a silver Vauxhall Astra and his body dumped in Manor Lane by Egremont Promenade where he was later discovered dead by an early morning dog walker.
Alongside Abela and Allen in the dock was drug dealer Christopher Halpin, 30, of Roscommon Street, Everton, who was found guilty of two offences of assisting an offender and being concerned in supplying Class A drugs.
47-year-old Abela, of Springfield Road, Wallasey and Allen, 41, had both admitted the drugs offence at the start of the six week trial. The jury took 13 hours to reach their verdicts.
Allen was sentenced to a total of ten years and Halpin received a total of 19 years.
Judge Clement Goldstone, QC, the Recorder of Liverpool, told Abela, who was on licence from jail for a robbery sentence at the time, "You were convicted on overwhelming circumstantial evidence and you have shown no remorse for the killing."
He said that that Halpin, who operated under the name of Trevor, was a major drugs wholesaler, supplying £1,000 worth of crack cocaine and heroin a day, between January and July last years to drug users on the streets of Wallasey.
Halpin did not "get his own hands dirty" supplying on the streets but recruited others to sell on his behalf for 10% commission. His principal dealer was Abela and Allen was a subordinate and part time dealer who sometimes used the "graft" work phone and drove Abela around including a trip to Birmingham with half a kilo of cocaine.
Also in the pecking order was Mark Reissing who had been a dealer on and off for 12 years. Over the weekend of July 5 last year Abela took a few days off and Mr Reissing took over but by the Monday he was £150 short on the money he needed to hand over for the drugs.
Mr Reissing, fearing repercussions, tried to get cash from an ATM using his partner's card but she had blocked the transaction and although Abela had been friends with him Abela was not prepared "to carry the can" for him with Halpin, said the judge.
"I am satisfied you decided to teach him a lesson," he told Abela, who showed no emotion.
"You lured him to a car and while his attention was distracted you broke a leg off a table and struck him on the head with it. As he shouted out in pain you stabbed him several times, fatally, in the leg with a knife.
"I cannot be sure you intended to kill him.This may have been a punishment beating." He said that he later told Allen that he thought he had gone too far and the judge described the way he handled his victim's body afterwards as "callous."
Forensic scientists found evidence that after Mr Reissing, of Trafalgar Road, Wallasey, had been killed and dumped Allen allowed Abela into his flat there they attempted "a clean-up job to remove evidence off what had been done."
Allen, who did not give evidence, told the police that he was afraid of Abela and after Abela dumped the body he helped him including giving him clean clothes and allowing him to bathe.
Halpin arranged for another man to drive the blood stained Astra to Liverpool where it was found on fire that evening and he also provided Abela with a white Transit van which Abela used to drive to Aberdeen, said Mr Driver.
Abela handed himself into a Liverpool police station on July 18.