One of Europe’s most wanted men found guilty of brutal murder
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One of Europe’s most wanted men has been found guilty of the brutal murder of a father at a farm in rural Cheshire.
Christopher Guest More Jr, who was on the run for almost 16 years, has been convicted of conspiracy to murder Brian Waters at Burnt House Farm in Tabley.
It took the jury just over 12 hours to reach its verdict following a trial lasting four-and-a-half weeks at Chester Crown Court.
The 43 year-old was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm with intent against another man.
Today (Friday 10 December) More Jr was sentenced to life in prison to serve a minimum term of 24 years.
Following the verdict, Detective Inspector Kate Tomlinson, who led the murder investigation, said:
“Christopher Guest More Jr has finally been found guilty of his part in the brutal murder of Brian Waters at Burnt House Farm on 19 June 2003. He fled the UK two days after the incident and stole another man’s identity in a bid to evade justice. We never gave up hope of finding him over the years and the guilty verdict marks a significant point in a long and painful road for all those involved.
“The level of violence used against the victims in this case was absolutely shocking. As police officers we are used to dealing with violent crime – but the barbaric nature of this attack is something that you never forget. When you look at what happened at the farm that day, and what those men did, it feels like something you only ever see in the movies. It doesn’t feel like something that could ever happen in real life – let alone in rural Cheshire.”
Brian Waters, who was 44 at the time of his death, sustained more than 100 separate injuries to his body after being tortured for more than three hours in a disused barn on the farm.
Another man – Suleman Razak – was left with significant wounds. The pair had to endure a sustained and brutal beating until they lost consciousness, were tied up, whipped with canes, suspended upside down and lowered into a barrel of dirty water, given electric shocks, burned with acid, stapled and strangled. A pillowcase was also put over their heads and set on fire.
Mr Waters’ son and daughter, who arrived at the farm after their dad, were also tied up and beaten. His son had a rope placed around his neck and pulled taut to restrain him while he was beaten and his daughter had a gun placed in her mouth. Both were made to watch events as they unfolded. His wife Julie was later abducted from the family home in Nantwich by two men and taken to the farm. She arrived just as the police turned up at the scene.
Three other men – John Wilson, now aged 71, James Raven, now aged 61, and Otis Matthews, now aged 44 – have previously been convicted between 2004-2007 of the same offences. More Jr was close associates of them all.
At the heart of this dispute was illegal drugs – and the result of a significant drugs debt supposedly owed by Mr Waters to Wilson, a well-known drug dealer from Manchester.
Mr Waters, who had been involved in drugs for a number of years, had been using Burnt House Farm as a base for growing cannabis – he jointly rented the farm with a friend. Suleman Razak, who was 20 at the time of the incident, often helped to tend to the plants, which were housed within the farmhouse on the site.
Wilson had discovered that Mr Waters had his own cannabis farm and set about trying to find its location – he asked More Jr for help with this as he was experienced in undercover and surveillance work for individuals and media companies.
More Jr, who was 25, claimed at the time of the murder he was completing background research to locate a cannabis farm for covert filming as part of a television documentary. However, More Jr had already been cast adrift by the television company some months before this and the documentary he claimed to be researching for was transmitted within days of the murder.
On the day of the incident More Jr, who lived in Lymm, had been at Burnt House Farm with a number of other men earlier in the day to steal the cannabis and equipment used to grow it. They had purchased a horsebox a few days earlier, travelled to the farm with it and filled it with the drugs – before it was driven off by Raven and left in the car park of a pub close to More Jr’s home.
Raven went back to the farm – stopping off at a local shop to stock up on supplies for the men including sandwiches, cigarettes and drinks. A carrier bag, containing packaging from these items, was later recovered from within the barn at Burnt House Farm. This provided vital evidence to prove who was there when Brian Waters was murdered.
It was around noon when Suleman Razak arrived at the farm – and he was immediately approached from behind, beaten, dragged into the disused barn and tortured. Mr Waters arrived an hour later and was subjected to a similar brutal beating. Mr Waters’ son and daughter arrived together around 2.10pm. The violence took place in the disused barn and Mr Waters was eventually dragged into the milking parlour after he had been killed.
Following a 999 call at 4.06pm from a phone box in nearby Plumley Moor Road and the arrival of the police, the offenders fled the scene through neighbouring fields – but their hasty departure left crucial DNA evidence behind in the carrier bag that had carefully been filled with discarded food wrapping, drinks bottles and cigarette butts. A number of other items were also left at the scene.
DNA evidence subsequently linked Raven and Matthews to the scene – Wilson was not there in person but orchestrated it from afar.
More Jr’s DNA was found on a glove at the entrance to the farm and on faeces, which had been bagged up and left in the barn, a sprite bottle and on a number of cigarettes butts found in the carrier bag, which was left behind by the men. It is believed that they intended to take the bags with them when they left the scene – to remove any trace of who was there – but the unexpected arrival of the police and their hurried escape meant that a treasure trove of scientific evidence was left behind.
Raven was arrested close to the scene that evening and subsequently charged. Matthews was arrested on 20 July 2003 in Manchester and charged the following day. Wilson was arrested on 6 October 2003 in Manchester and also charged the following day.
More Jr fled the UK two days later – on 21 June 2003 – and flew to Malaga in Spain where he rented an apartment. A European Arrest Warrant was issued on 21 May 2004 and, over the years, searches continued in a bid to try and locate him.
Detective Superintendent Sarah Pengelly, who was involved in the hunt for More Jr and recently retired from the force, said:
“A man hunt was launched in a bid to locate Christopher Guest More Jr. Over the years enquiries continued in a bid to pinpoint his location but it was like trying to find a needle in a haystack as he could literally have been anywhere – and, as we now know, living under a stolen identity. Despite the passage of time and these challenging circumstances our determination to find him never faltered and we remained committed to locating and arresting him for his involvement in the murder.
“Over the years a lot of work went on behind the scenes out of the public eye in a bid to piece together as much information as possible as to his whereabouts. In 2019, he was added to Europe’s ‘Most Wanted’ list. This was a significant step forward in our efforts to find him and our re-appeal for information reached an international audience.
“On the back of this, we received intelligence, and he was finally located at an address in Malta and arrested. This would not have been possible without the help and support of a number of agencies working together including the National Crime Agency and law enforcement partners in Malta and I would like to thank colleagues for all of their assistance.
“I would also like to thank members of the public for all of their support over the years and information provided on the back of our appeals.”
What we know is that, after leaving the UK, Christopher Guest More Jr stole another man’s identity – Andrew Lamb – and travelled to a number of different locations before arriving in Malta.
Here he is believed to have lived an affluent lifestyle and worked as a Captain on luxury yachts.
Following his arrest in Malta, the extradition process started and Christopher Guest More Jr finally arrived back in the UK in March 2020.
Video provided by the Maltese authorities
Since his arrest, a dedicated team of officers from Cheshire Constabulary’s Major Investigation Team have been working on the case.
DI Tomlinson added: “Many of those involved in the original investigation 18 years ago have since retired or moved onto other roles. A new joint team was set up with officers working alongside colleagues in the Crown Prosecution Service to review all of the evidence from the original trials.
“I would like to thank everyone involved from the many police officers and members of police staff across Cheshire, to colleagues in CPS and all those involved in the manhunt and extradition process
“It has been a long journey to get to this stage and I hope that the guilty verdict helps the family of Brian Waters and Suleman Razak to finally move forward with their lives knowing that Christopher Guest More Jr has been brought to justice.”
In court More Jr admitted carrying out a number of reconnaissance trips to open land near Burnt House Farm before the day of the murder as part of his undercover research but denied ever having entered the farmhouse. He also denied being in the barn or on the farm when the assaults were being carried out and denied having any prior knowledge or suspicion that such crimes would take place.
He accepted that he stole the cannabis and equipment on the morning of 19 June 2003 but claimed he left the farm before Suleman Razak and the Waters family arrived.
In court, when questioned about his reasons for leaving the UK, More Jr claimed he feared for his safety after Wilson discovered his plans for a documentary but the jury did not believe this version of events and he was found guilty.
Det Supt Pengelly added: “People mistakenly believe that by leaving the country they can avoid being found but that is not the case – as this shows, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you go – you can run but you can’t hide. You will always be looking over your shoulder because it really is only a matter of time before we catch-up with you.”
The past two years have been a challenge sifting through thousands of statements, exhibits and documents to get the case ready for court but we remained determined to do everything we could to build the strongest possible case.
Statement on behalf of the family of Brian Waters
We are delighted with the guilty verdict and pleased that Christopher Guest More Jr is finally facing justice for his part in the horrific murder of a loving husband and father.
We would like to thank detectives from Cheshire Constabulary, the prosecution team and everyone else involved in the case for all of their hard work and tireless and extensive investigations, which now span more than 18 years. We would also like to extend our thanks to the Family Liaison Officers for their help, advice and support over the years.
What happened at Burnt House Farm on 19 June 2003 has had a significant and long-lasting effect on our family. We will never be able to forget events of that day and, even now, more than 18 years down the line, we feel the pain on a daily basis with constant flashbacks.
We have remained a close-knit family and have provided much-needed support to each other – but this has been an isolating experience for us and not only have we lived in fear of reprisals we have also struggled to trust others as we normally would.
It’s similar to the feelings people have experienced in the current COVID crisis – not being able to leave their home and having to stay inside to feel safe. We have been living like that for more than 18 years.
But we never gave up hope and the verdict today marks the end of an incredibly painful journey in our lives. We would now ask that our privacy is respected and we are left alone as a family as we try and move forward with the next chapter of our lives.
Nicola Wyn Williams from the Crown Prosecution Service said: "It has been a privilege to work as part of such a dedicated prosecution team to bring the defendant to justice and hopefully provide some closure for the victims and family in this case."
Nikki Holland, NCA Director of Investigations, said: “We are utterly delighted that after very many years of cheating justice, Guest More Jnr is in prison where he belongs for a long time. The NCA and Cheshire Police worked quietly, hand-in-hand behind the scenes for all those years developing strategies and pursuing leads to find him.
“The Agency’s investigators and International Liaison Officer network were instrumental in tracing and identifying Guest More Jnr to Malta. We used a range of specialist capabilities – which we lead for the benefit of all UK law enforcement – to pinpoint Guest More Jnr where our Maltese partners arrested him.
“More Jnr featured on the very successful Operation Capture fugitives hunt, and out of 96 fugitives there are now just nine evading justice. We were never going to give up the hunt to catch him. Other fugitives should remember that and ask themselves if it’s worth living a life looking over their shoulder.”