Two men have been jailed for their roles in the death of Liam Dent who was intentionally struck by a stolen car in Chessington.
Their convictions followed a lengthy investigation by detectives from the Specialist Crime Command which used expert evidence to identify the speeds at which the car travelled in the moments leading up to the murder.
Martin Eastwood, 22 (11.02.00) of Conifer Park, Kiln Lane, Epsom was convicted of murder at the Old Bailey on Monday, 7 March.
On Wednesday, 6 April, he was sentenced to life imprisonment to serve a minimum of 30 years.
Daniel Morris, 22 (22.05.99) of no fixed address – who had previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter – was sentenced to five-and-a-half years’ imprisonment.
Detective Inspector Garth Hall, from the Specialist Crime Command, said: “Today’s sentencing is the culmination of an investigation by my team which required meticulous evidence gathering to ensure that Eastwood would be held accountable for his actions.
“It is clear from his behaviour that he is a dangerous man who has no regard for the lives and wellbeing of others.
“Our thoughts remain with Liam’s family and friends.”
In the early hours of 26 July 2019, 25-year-old Liam was struck by a Ford S-MAX on Osborne Way in Chessington and dragged for half a mile under the vehicle. The driver failed to stop at the scene, and the car was later found burnt out on Cyclamen Way in Epsom, about one mile from the collision site.
Emergency services attended and provided Liam with first aid. Despite their efforts, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
A post-mortem examination held at Kingston Mortuary on 27 July 2019 established the cause of death as multiple injuries, further noting that some showed evidence of prolonged dragging.
Detectives from the Specialist Crime Command launched a murder investigation and established that Liam and his friends had been involved in an altercation with the occupants of a stolen Volvo V40 outside a local Chessington pub where they had been drinking. Words had been exchanged, and a number of items thrown. No one was injured during this incident.
Later that night, as Liam was going home with his friends, he was struck by the Ford S-MAX.
An extensive review of CCTV cameras in the area led detectives to footage that showed two vehicles – the Ford S-MAX and a black BMW, which was also stolen – travelling in convoy shortly before Liam was struck. Earlier footage showed the Ford and the Volvo travelling together. The Volvo was subsequently found burnt out on Alexandra Road in Epsom.
Analysis of telematics data recovered from the Ford was able to confirm its location at the time of the collision. The system also recorded its speed, proving that it had been stationary on the road where Liam was walking shortly before accelerating towards him in the moments before he was struck. Conclusive evidence also linked Eastwood to the vehicle.
The investigation continued, and ten people were arrested between August and December 2019 on suspicion of offences including murder and perverting the course of justice. Ahead of the first anniversary of Liam’s murder, detectives and his family, renewed appeals to the public for information and on 16 October 2020, two men, Eastwood and Morris, were charged with Liam’s murder.
Detectives discovered that Jasmine Robinson had assisted Eastwood following the fatal collision.
Jasmine Robinson, 19 (03.05.02), of Epsom was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, having been convicted of assisting an offender.
Eastwood had earlier been convicted of other offences at Kingston Crown Court on 25 November 2021. This followed an investigation into two offences which were linked due to his participation and the similarities between them.
On 10 September 2018, at Scotts Farm Road in West Ewell, a man was left with life changing injuries following a brutal attack where he was pursued on his bicycle by a group of men in a dark 4×4 vehicle and deliberately driven into. He suffered breaks to both legs, bones in his feet and hands and fractures to his ribs, leaving him in a wheelchair for more than 18 months following the attack. He still struggles to walk unaided. The vehicle was subsequently found burnt out in Banstead later that night; it had been stolen from an address in Feltham earlier in September 2018.
On 22 April 2019, at Moor Lane in Chessington, a man was robbed of a chain and mobile phone and left with what were fortunately only minor injuries having been deliberately driven into by a car, knocked to the floor and stabbed in the arm by two men who ran from the vehicle. The vehicle was subsequently located some days later in Stoneleigh and was established to have been stolen from an address in Epsom earlier in April 2019.
Following an investigation, Eastwood was charged in relation to both offences on 16 December 2019