Man found guilty of murdering Manea gangster Billy Boy Martindale and jailed for minimum of 23 years

Billy Martindale

Billy Martindale - Credit: Archant

A MAN who battered a former Fenland man to death at a remote Essex farm last year was today jailed for a minimum of 23 years.

Paul Groves, 34, of Ongar, was convicted yesterday at Chelmsford Crown Court of murdering self-styled criminal and gangster William (Billy Boy) Martindale on September 7 last year at Mr Martindale’s smallholding in Ongar.

Mr Martindale, who lived in Manea from the age of 10 to 17 and attended Cromwell Community College in Chatteris, died from severe head injuries.

He was bludgeoned to death with a pick-axe handle by Groves after the pair, who used to be friends, had rowed over drugs.

Groves was given a life sentence by High Court judge Mr Justice Sweeney, who ruled that he must serve at least 23 years before he is even eligible to apply for parole.

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As he sentenced Groves, who was accompanied at the farm by another man whose identity was never revealed, the judge told him: “You have been convicted of the brutal murder of William Martindale.

“You used severe force causing terrible injuries to Mr Martindale’s head. At the time he was unconscious.

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“You took a muscled assistant and never revealed that man’s identity although you knew it.”

Groves, 34, of Queensway, Ongar, wearing a grey fleece and open necked shirt, stood in the dock flanked by a security officer and showed no emotion as the sentence was imposed.

Groves claimed in court that he thought Mr Martindale was armed with a shotgun or machete and was going to shoot him. He said he acted in self-defence.

Before the judge passed sentence Graham Trembath, QC for Groves, told the judge: “Essentially Mr Martindale was a co-author of this scenario that played out that evening.

“It was Mr Martindale, by virtue of incessant telecommunication, texts and phone calls, who goaded Groves to go to the farm that evening.”

Groves was also convicted of causing grievous bodily harm to another man, Paul Meeking, 54, of Barking, who he also attacked with the pick-axe handle.

In addition to the life sentence the judge handed down a concurrent sentence of 10 years in respect of the attack on Mr Meeking.

After the jury returned a guilty verdict yesterday, Det Insp Marina Ericson said: “We are delighted with the verdict.

“The evidence heard throughout the trial demonstrated the level of violence used by Paul Groves when he brutally attacked both Billy Martindale and Paul Meeking.

“Paul Groves is a violent man whose intention to cause serious harm to both Mr Martindale and Mr Meeking has been proven.

“Our thoughts continue to go out to Billy’s family and friends at this time. We hope this verdict will provide them with some comfort and allow them to move on with their lives, following what has been a very distressing period for them.”

Mr Martindale had been with Tina Joseph, 35, for 17 years. The couple had three children, 17-year-old Reece, 14-year-old Lewis and six-year-old Lilly.

Ms Joseph said: “These past few months have been quiet and we have certainly felt the loss of Billy. Our lives are empty without him as he brought character to our day.

“He had a bubbly personality and I am so angry that his dispute with Paul Groves got out of hand and left my children fatherless.

“I am even more angry that Billy was assaulted in front of his children and Paul Groves should be ashamed of himself for allowing this to happen. It infuriates me.

“My children and I would like to thank other members of the family, friends and neighbours who have supported or offered support throughout the past eight months.

“They have been invaluable. We miss Billy dearly and life isn’t the same without him. After this verdict and Paul Groves’ sentencing, we can hopefully rebuild our lives and plan for the future. We must not dwell on the past.”

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