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18 September 2012, 16:46
A Wigan man, who killed his neighbor and tried hide his body in a wheelie bin has been locked up.
James Jepson even moved the bin to a nearby field 36 hours later, leaving two friends walking their dogs to find the body of Steven Rourke.
25 year old Jepson, also known as James Kelly, of Bickershaw Lane, Hindley, was found guilty of Steven’s murder after a trial at Liverpool Crown Court. He has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years.
He strangled Steven using a washing line, put his body head first in the bin, and covered it with carpet underlay.
26 year old Steven, lived next door to Jepson on Bickershaw Lane. He had learning difficulties and was known to make inappropriate sexual remarks towards others.
Back in March Steven went round to Jepson’s house to ask for a cigarette, but Jepson claimed that Steven went round later, this time asking for sex.
CCTV footage shows that Jepson left his own house twice, just before and just after 10pm.
Detectives also discovered Jepson made a phone call from Steven’s landline, and it’s likely he got into the house through the back door.
He was then seen shortly after midnight pulling a wheelie bin out of Steven’s house. Jepson took the bin to Grange Road.
More footage, and evidence from witnesses, showed that Jepson then moved the bin 36 hours after the murder, from Grange Road to a disused railway line overlooking a rural area called Nine Acres.
Over that weekend, a number of people passed the bin and even looked inside to investigate, but because of the carpet underlay no concerns were raised.
Two people walking their dogs eventually moved the underlay to discover Steven’s body.
The jury heard that Jepson suffered from mood swings and had a history of violent behaviour.
Senior Investigating Officer Andrew Tattersall said: “James Jepson has devastated Steven’s family by not only taking his life away, but also by the callous way in which he has done so.
“Jepson is clearly a troubled individual but a jury has found that this is no excuse for him not to be held responsible for Steven’s murder.
“Only he knows why he killed Steven in such a violent manner and moved the wheelie bin which meant that someone else had to find the body and call the police.
“Our thoughts remain with the family of Steven Rourke, and I hope today’s result, which is the outcome of a police investigation and subsequent prosecution, brings them some closure and helps them to move on.”