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6 July 2012, 17:01
A couple who murdered a transsexual and hid the body in a suitcase to cover it up have been locked up for life.
51 year old David John Hardman, of Victoria Street, Openshaw, and 33 year old Tracy Elizabeth Hurrell, of no fixed address, were both convicted of murdering 49 year old Lionel Morl following a trial at Preston Crown Court.
Hurrell was also found guilty of perverting the course of justice.
They have both been sentenced to life in prison and must serve a minimum of 23 years before they are eligible for parole.
In August last year, police when to investigated a reported burglary at a flat neighbouring Hardman's.
While there, the occupants told police that Hurrell had told them there was a dead body in Hardman's flat.
Officers went to the flat and noticed a rotten smell coming from inside.
After knocking they noticed Hardman hiding in the hallway. He eventually let them in and when they asked what the smell in the flat was, Hardman told them that it was a coming from an abscess in his foot.
The officers went into the bathroom where they noticed a suitcase swarming with flies and maggots. Inside was a decomposing body, later identified as Lionel Morl.
Hardman and Hurrell - who was also inside the flat - were arrested.
A post-mortem examination showed that Lionel had died following a violent attack where he was stabbed and beaten. It’s thought he died two weeks before police found him.
Senior Investigating Officer, Andy Tattersall, said: “Hurrell and Hardman were both dependant on alcohol and drugs and went to desperate lengths to obtain cash to fund their habits. This is reflected in the theft of Lionel's benefits before and after they killed him.
“Each blames the other for what happened and both have fabricated different stories so we might never know exactly what happened and why.
“What we do know is that from start to finish, they worked together: in stealing Lionel's benefits, in his violent murder and in trying to hide his body.
“Lionel was a popular member of the community who was in the process of re-contacting his siblings when he was murdered. Sadly they never got the opportunity to reunite, but I hope they find comfort in today's sentencing."