Murder of Michael Spalding (946A/23)
I would like to make a freedom of information request for copies of the following materials, pertaining to the Michael Spalding case that happened in May 2014.
- The police report / detective reports pertaining to the case
- Police interview audio / video of perpetrator
- Police interview audio / video of witnesses
- Crime scene photo’s / video (please note we do NOT produce any graphic images)
- Any bodycam footage worn by officers at the scene
- Any other police audio or video used in this case e.g. crime scene walk throughs, CCTV and 999 calls
The perpetrator of the murder is named Lorenzo Simon and the victim’s name is Michael Spalding
Our data are not organised in such a way as to allow us to provide this information within the appropriate (cost) limit within the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act (see ‘Reason for Decision’ below).
In order to retrieve this, data, we would have to go through the HOLMES system to identify the material required, recall / arrange collection of boxes (which are in storage), and pull out the material. This would exceed the 18 hours’ time limit for the purposes of the FOI Act.
I am unable to suggest any practical way in which your request may be modified in order to satisfy your query or bring it within the 18 hours stipulated by the Regulations. I am however willing to consider any refinements that you are able to make to your request, in accordance with Section 16 of the Freedom of Information Act. If you would like to look into refining your request please contact me.
If you do decide to refine your request it is important to note that this information will be exempt by virtue of
S40 (Personal data)
S31 (Law enforcement)
S38 (Health and safety)
Also, a defendant though serving a prison sentence can still under the independent Criminal Case Review Commission apply for a review of their case.
Please find below our press release in relation to the case:
A man who used an old friend for slave labour to decorate his flat, and then killed him when he finally downed tools, has today been sentenced for his murder.
Lorenzo Simon murdered long-term pal Michael Spalding at the property in Oxford Road, Smethwick, before dismembering the body, stuffing it inside two suitcases and, along with girlfriend Michelle Bird, throwing them in Birmingham Canal.
The barbaric pair weighted them down with broken slabs but decomposition gases re-floated one case and the gruesome discovery was made by a Canal Trust contractor on May 12 last year – 16 days after police suspect he was killed.
Simon (34) initially denied knowledge of Mr Spalding’s death, claiming he threw the 39-year-old out following a row over a car crash, but later admitted assaulting him during a fight after police found tiny blood droplets on the flat’s lounge wall.
Neighbours reported seeing a bonfire in the rear garden following Michael’s disappearance – a heat so intense it melted UPVC guttering fascia’s – and forensic examination of debris from an oil drum showed it to be part of the victim’s humerus bone.
Police divers recovered the second case – containing the victim’s head, limbs and tools – below Pope Bridge, Smethwick, on May 16 and further searches of the canal bed uncovered a hacksaw.
Using futuristic 3D scanning technology – developed through a pioneering project with Warwick University – experts were able to show a perfect jigsaw fit between the charred bone and a severed limb found in the suitcase.
And the same scanning technique – which provides image resolution 43,000 times more detailed that a hospital CT scan – proved a link between the hacksaw and lacerations found on other bones.
Drag marks were also found on the towpath near Pope’s Bridge where the pair dumped the suitcases into the canal.
At Birmingham Crown Court today (April 16) Simon was sentenced to life behind bars and will serve a minimum of 19 years. Michelle Bird, who was acquitted of murder but admitted assisting an offender, was jailed for two and a half years at the same hearing.
Investigating officer, Detective Inspector Harry Harrison, said: “Michael was exploited in life by Lorenzo Simon and Michelle Bird…and they afforded him no dignity in death. On the contrary, they treated him in the most despicable manner in order to conceal their crime.
“Simon accepted Michael as a tenant on the agreement he used his considerable handyman skills to do up the flat. But he treated him like a slave, working him past midnight and then waking him early in the morning to continue working. They were only allowed out with his say-so and given just one meal a day…usually pizza and chips.
“Michael finally broke and complained at their treatment…we believe that, combined with a car accident where Simon accused him of being responsible for damaging his VW Passat, led to the fatal attack.
“Simon said he hit Michael in the back and that he fell to the floor dead within seconds and claimed to have disposed of the body in panic. Bird said she was on an errand to buy alcohol at the time of the killing but later admitted helping her boyfriend in the aftermath.
“However, we were able to provide compelling evidence to the jury that this was a vicious murder and that Simon went to considerable lengths to try and cover his tracks.
“The community came together to support this investigation. My thanks go to the Canal and River Trust and also Professor Mark Williams at Warwick University whose pioneering 3D scanning technology greatly supported the case.”
Michael – known as ‘Spud’ – had been living at the Oxford Road address for almost three weeks and was under the impression a good renovation job would help him land his own tenancy with the landlord.
However, Simon blamed the father-of-three for a collision in mid-April that left his VW Passat with front end damage – and told him the crash ended his hopes of securing his own place and jeopardised their own tenancy arrangement.
Michael last spoke to his partner, who moved out to be with family in Tamworth, at 10pm on 25 April and police suspect he was murdered later that night or the following day.
The black suitcase containing the victim’s torso was first spotted on May 5 floating in the water near Pope Bridge by a narrow boat owner. It was seen on several subsequent occasions by canal users before a contractor, suspecting the case contained a dead animal, towed it to Icknield Port yard on May 12.
Unemployed Simon – who has convictions for robbery, burglary, theft and drug supply – moved to Derby in a bid to evade police when news of the body find broke but was arrested with Bird on 19 May and charged two days later.
Detectives later heard accounts from neighbours in Oxford Road who told of “aggressive, nasty” arguments coming from the flat. One recalled Simon saying: “I want this place finished…I’ve got to live here, you are taking the p**s” to which Michael replied “I’m tired, I’m hungry, I want to go home. I’ve been at it all day”.
A pathologist deemed a number of weapons were used to dismember the body, including knives, a saw and possibly a heavy bladed weapon like an axe.
The post mortem examination was unable to confirm the precise cause of death but it’s suspected Mr Spalding died from a stab wound to the neck…evidence of which was subsequently destroyed when the body was beheaded.
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