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9 April 2015, 15:17
After a man's body was found in suitcases in a Birmingham canal a 34 year-old from the Black Country has been convicted.
Michael Spalding, known as "spud", had been living with Lorenzo Simon whilst he worked long hours on his house in Smethwick for no pay.
Last year (12 May, 2014) the 39 year-old's remains were found by a Canal Trust contractor in Ladywood.
Simon was soon tracked down and linked to the crime through blood on his flat's lounge wall as well as by 3D scanning technology which identified tools that had been used on the body.
Neighbours told detectives they heard Spalding being shouted at and saying: "I’m tired, I’m hungry, I want to go home."
Simon's 35 year-old partner Michelle Bird, who lived at the same house in Smethwick, admitted assisting an offender at an earlier hearing, but was cleared of being involved in killing Michael Spalding.
Detective Inspector Harry Harrison worked on the West Midlands police investigation.
He 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.
"[Michael was] only allowed out with [Simon's] say-so and given just one meal a day usually pizza and chips.
"Michael finally broke and complained at [his] 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."
Lorenzo Simon will be sentenced next week along with Michelle Bird who despite being cleared of killing Michael Spalding had admitted assisting an offender at an earlier hearing.