Man sentenced to life imprisonment for killing much-loved father in Warrington
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Daniel Shovelton, of Saffron Close in Longbarn, was told he will serve a minimum of 24 years in prison after being convicted of the killing following a 12 day trial at Liverpool Crown Court.
He was sentenced on Monday 21 September.
Mark Bradbury was found dead at his bungalow in Station Road South in Padgate at 10pm on Sunday 4 August.
What followed was a lengthy and painstaking police investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.
This involved interviewing hundreds of witnesses, reviewing thousands of CCTV footage and the use of search and scientific specialists to support the investigation.
After a meticulous investigation Shovelton was charged just over six months later.
The court heard how he subjected his 58-year-old victim to a brutal attack.
He suffered deep internal bruising and significant injuries to his head from blunt force trauma and strangulation.
The investigation team discovered Mark was a small time drug dealer who had known Shovelton for around 20 years.
Shovelton was one of Mark’s customers and regularly bought cocaine from him to feed his desperate and expensive addiction.
The 40-year-old was in need of money and drugs at the time of Mark’s murder – he was around £53,000 in debt to drug dealers, his family and to businesses, as well as having a £1,000-a-month cocaine habit.
Shovelton had recently been sacked from his job as a delivery driver for stealing. He was living back with his parents after his home had been repossessed and had resorted to asking his daughter to lend him money.
The police investigation established that Mark’s last known movements were at Bargain Booze shortly before 6.30pm on Thursday 1 August where he bought beer and cigarettes before driving home.
Mark Bradbury purchasing beer and cigarettes from Bargain Booze
He then met with a drug customer at his home, the last known person to have seen him alive, before having a phone call shortly after 7pm. His phone was then disconnected from the network and was never seen, spoken to or heard from again.
On the day Mark is believed to have died, on Thursday 1 August, Shovelton was seen in the vicinity of Station Road South on four separate occasions.
On one of them he was seen by a 14-year-old girl at around midday with his head down and walking towards Mark’s address.
The girl was so concerned by his behaviour, which she found ‘strange’ and quickened her step, she reported it to police.
At the time Mark was home, Shovelton was captured shortly after 7pm in a Kia Ceed travelling along Station Road. He was seen driving away from the direction of Mark’s home nearly three hours later.
After killing Mark, he changed his clothes before conducting what he himself described as a ‘magical mystery tour’.
He visited Tesco Extra on Winwick Road at 11.30pm and bought several items.
Daniel Shovelton visiting Tesco Extra
Then after midnight Shovelton went to the industrial area of Woolston Grange Avenue where he is believed to have disposed of incriminating items. This included the clothing and footwear he was captured wearing on CCTV before the murder.
Over the next few days, Shovelton continued to spend Mark’s money, including £27 on scratch cards, and he attempted to source more cocaine.
He also began to repeatedly check the Warrington Guardian newspaper for any updates on the case, and also spent time researching the senior investigating officer.
Around a month later, on Thursday 5 September 2019, police arrested Shovelton on suspicion of murder.
After searching his address they recovered a number of items, including keys to the Kia Ceed.
The key ring was examined and traces of Mark’s blood was found.
They also recovered Mark’s gold ring inside the pocket of his black trousers and an empty packet of Lambert and Butler cigarettes which matched the ones Mark bought from a convenience store on the evening of his death.
Mark Bradbury's gold ring, found within Daniel Shovelton's black trousers
Lambert and Butler cigarettes, matching the ones Mark bought from a convenience store on the evening of his death.
He was released under investigation, but subsequently re-arrested on 24 March 2020, and charged with murder two days later on 25 March.
Detective Inspector Sarah Oliver, from Cheshire Police’s Major Investigation Team, said: “Mark was a much loved father and his loss is still keenly felt by his daughter Hannah. My thoughts are with her and her family.
“I hope the conviction of Shovelton helps Hannah and all those who knew Mark to continue to come to terms with what happened.
“Shovelton has never shown any remorse for his actions and continues to avoid responsibility for the hurt he has caused.
“He has shown himself to be an utterly selfish man who put his own need for cash and cocaine above all else. He saw Mark as someone who he could take both – with devastating consequences.
“This case demonstrates the impact drug and gambling addiction can have and I would urge anybody with an addiction to seek help.”
Mark's daughter Hannah paid tribute to her dad following the conviction: "Thank you to everyone who has shown support, and to the incredible Cheshire Police over the last 13 months.
"This has been the longest road for justice for my dad, who did not deserve to be taken from us in the most brutal way. This experience will never be forgotten by so many, and in that I hope my dad’s memory will live on in happiness and love."
David Keane, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, said: “This crime shocked the local community and deeply saddened all those who knew Mark.
“My thoughts are with Mark’s daughter Hannah and his family and friends. I hope this conviction gives them some form of comfort in that justice has now been served.”