Jail for Bilston businessman who deleted CCTV of Dwaine Haughton killers
A motorcycle business boss who wiped clean CCTV that would have been a big help to police investigating a fatal shooting has been jailed for ten months.
Lee Whittle made the move after being phoned the day after the murder of Dwaine Haughton by 26-year-old Dwain Smith who, together with Kurrum Guild, was later convicted of the crime.
The pair, along with Montell Gray and Seamus Williams - both convicted of manslaughter - are now awaiting sentence.
The 50-year-old defendant contacted the CCTV's installer for advice on how to remove film from the system and had cleaned it just 90 minutes later.
Smith, Guild and Gray visited the Chambers Racing shop run by him in Johnson Street, Bilston, on the day of the shooting, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.
They borrowed tools to put false number plates on an Audi A7 stolen the previous day and used by those who ambushed 24-year-old Mr Haughton in Valley Road, Park Village.
Mr Haughton was killed by up to three shotgun blasts at about 9.20pm on July 20 last year, explained Ms Lynette McClement, prosecuting.
Whittle knew that Smith was up to no good, claimed he did not ask why the security film footage had to be removed and did not realise Smith was involved in murder until the following day, the court heard.
CCTV footage from other distant cameras in the street showed three people coming and going from the shop but were not sufficiently close for positive identification of either the individuals or the bag being carried by Smith in which two shotguns were found much later in the inquiry.
An officer from the homicide team estimated that it the footage had not been destroyed it would have saved many hours of further investigation and two days of the trial.
When officers moved into Johnson Street gathering CCTV on August 1 the defendant was panicked-ridden and pointlessly cleared the hard drive for his system three times in 30 minutes.
"He had never found himself in such a grave situation," explained Mr Kevin Saunders, defending.
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The barrister said Whittle, who is married with one child and was of previous good character, had known Smith since he was ten years old and became a father figure in his life - a position abused by the murderer.
The defendant, from Queens Crescent, Coseley, pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice and was sent to prison by Judge James Burbidge QC who told him: "When you were asked to delete the CCTV footage you did not know he was responsible for a killing but must have known it involved serious crime.
"That is why it was so serious and why it would send out the wrong message if the sentence was suspended."
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