They were labelled as “drug addicts killing for kicks”.
And now a prostitute and her drug dealer “pimp” have both been jailed for life for the murder of a 50-year-old grandfather at his home in Huddersfield.
A judge said 30-year-old Nicola Bedford and her on-off boyfriend Surjit Sidhu, 49, would each have to serve a minimum of 21 years.
He said they had been “drug addicts killing for kicks” when the attack on father-of-three Martin Ackroyd turned into murder.
The Honourable Mr Justice Coulson said the pair had been jointly involved in the murder and the suffering of Mr Ackroyd before he died was the most significant aggravating feature of the case.
Bradford Crown Court heard that Bedford, of Blackers Court, Thornhill Lees, Dewsbury, had preyed on older and younger men to get money for drugs and the judge described her relationship with Sidhu as being mutually destructive and founded on sex, drugs and money.
The judge said Sidhu, who had previously run a successful cleaning business, had been obsessed with Bedford and the court heard how he had spent thousands of pounds on a “boob job” for her.
Mr Justice Coulson said Sidhu found Mr Ackroyd “irritating” and at the time of the murder he was already on bail over allegations that he had previously assaulted the former licensee and Bedford.
Despite a bail condition not to have contact with either of them Bedford apparently contacted Sidhu when she feared that Mr Ackroyd may have overdosed on drugs.
The judge suggested that the attack on Mr Ackroyd may have been motivated partly by Sidhu’s hope that he could get him to drop the charges, but after initially being hit Mr Ackroyd, who only weighed nine stone and had breathing difficulties, was then tied up.
During the ordeal at his flat in Ashenhurst Rise, Newsome, Huddersfield, Mr Ackroyd had a ligature and a shirt tied round his neck by Sidhu while Bedford put a plastic bag over his head.
It was later discovered that a cloth had been put in his mouth to stop his screams and Mr Justice Coulson said that bore “mute witness” to the suffering inflicted by both of the defendants on Mr Ackroyd.
After the murder Mr Ackroyd’s body was dumped in the bath and the pair had sex at Sidhu’s home in New Hey Road, Oakes, Huddersfield, before they returned to the crime scene to try and clean up.
The court heard that suffocation and asphyxiation were the principal cause of Mr Ackroyd’s death and Mr Justice Coulson said he was satisfied that as well as doing a “professional clean up job” at the flat there had also been an intention to dismember the body although that did not in fact happen.
Both Bedford and Sidhu had tried to blame the other for the murder, but both had made incriminating comments to fellow prisoners while on remand.
Sidhu told another inmate that he had “tortured” Mr Ackroyd and added:”He had it coming. I’m not losing sleep over it.”
Bedford was found guilty of murder by a jury earlier this week and Sidhu pleaded guilty to the murder charge on the 10th day of their previous trial.
Mr Justice Coulson said each of them would have to serve a minimum of 21 years in prison before being considered for released by the Parole Board.