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12 July 2019, 14:23
A "naive" woman who took almost £3,000 in cash and a mobile phone to Holland to help an on-the-run killer has been jailed for two years.
Melisa Birkinshaw pleaded guilty in June to perverting the course of justice by helping Tyrone Andrew after he had stabbed Reagan Asbury in the neck following a boxing match at Walsall Town Hall in 2017.
Andrew, of St Helen's Street, Derby, fled to Amsterdam and then Spain but was jailed for 14 years in August last year after being found guilty of manslaughter.
Birkinshaw, formerly of Cavendish Court, Derby, looked at the floor but remained composed in the dock at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday as she was jailed.
The 22-year-old admitted doing acts intending to pervert the course of justice between October and December 2017 by permitting her bank account to receive cash intended for Andrew, and giving money and a phone to him in Holland.
The court heard that Andrew was in phone contact with Birkinshaw while he was still in Walsall, and later met her outside her flat.
She flew from Luton Airport to Amsterdam three days after the killing with cash that had been deposited into her building society account by associates of Andrew.
Passing sentence, Judge Simon Drew QC accepted that Birkinshaw had been naive, but told her: "You must have made the (account) details available and then you set about withdrawing that cash, both in this country and in Amsterdam.
"That money clearly was being used to fund him while he was on the run abroad.
"It is conceded on your behalf that by the time you were in Amsterdam you knew all too well that the police wished to speak to Andrew and why.
"As a direct consequence of your actions he was able to flee the authorities in this country and abroad for more than two months.
"This offence was so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified."
The court heard that Birkinshaw told police she and Andrew were not boyfriend and girlfriend, and that she was drunk when she agreed to help him.
Defence lawyer William Bennett told the judge before sentencing: "She was on friendly terms with him but she, to a certain extent, was frightened of him and wary of him.
"After the money had been paid in, she sobered up and she realised what serious people she had been dealing with. She felt unable to back out."
Two other defendants have already been jailed for perverting the course of justice.
A trial which ended last summer was told that Mr Asbury, 19, was stabbed after violence flared following a youth world title fight involving Derby-based Myron Mills and Walsall fighter Luke Paddock.
During the disorder, described by witnesses as like a scene from a Wild West film, chairs and tables were thrown inside Walsall Town Hall.
CCTV footage played to Andrew's murder trial showed him running up behind Mr Asbury and stabbing him.
Jurors acquitted the 22-year-old of murder after deciding he had not intended really serious harm when he severed an artery in the teenager's neck.
Passing sentence last August, Judge Drew said the stabbing of Mr Asbury was a "deliberate and focused" blow aimed at an obviously unarmed victim.
The judge added that Mr Asbury, from Pelsall, West Midlands, was also facing away from Andrew, who claimed to have lashed out in self-defence while fearing for his life.