A depraved lodger who butchered a pensioner and tried to feed his dismembered body to badgers after stealing hundreds of pounds from him was today jailed for life.
Daniel Walsh, 30, murdered Graham Snell at his home in Chesterfield after the 71-year-old caught him stealing from his bank account in June 2019.
He then caught a taxi to a DIY store to buy two handsaws which he used to cut up the ‘much-loved’ landlord into 10 pieces.
Walsh stuffed most of the remains down a badger den and dumped the other body parts in communal bins and remote woodland.
The killer then ‘took himself away from the horror’ by going on an alcohol and drugs binge with the stolen cash, visiting casinos and amusement arcades in Matlock, Derbyshire, and massage parlours in Sheffield.
Police arrested Walsh 10 days later, following reports by neighbours who reported not seeing Mr Snell for some time.
Walsh initially denied murder and claimed he had found Mr Snell’s body in a bedroom following a drinking sessions and said he ‘panicked’ and got rid of it out of fear of being blamed for the death.
But a jury found him guilty of the charge last month following a three-week trial at Derby Crown Court.
Daniel Walsh (left), 30, murdered Graham Snell (right) and cut up his ‘much-loved’ victim into 10 pieces after the 71-year-old caught him stealing from his bank account in June 2019
Walsh stuffed most of Mr Snell’s remains down a badger den and dumped the other body parts in communal bins and remote woodland in Chesterfield
Walsh refused to return to court or appear via video-link from prison for sentencing today, but was jailed for life in his absence and told he must serve at least 27 years before he can be considered for parole.
The court also heard that Walsh was jailed for six months in 2009 for stealing £5,000 from Mr Snell and in 2014 was convicted of assaulting the pensioner by punching him twice in the head.
Judge Nirmal Shant QC, sentencing, said: ‘It is plain that as soon as you [Walsh] moved in – or before – you decided to defraud him of his modest savings. You set about taking charge of his money.
‘Mr Snell became aware and foiled it by going to his bank and reporting you had carried out fraudulent transactions. He was advised to tell the police.’
The judge added that Walsh then killed his victim – but it was impossible to say how he died, became of the ‘gruesome’ dismemberment of his body.
She said: ‘He was vulnerable because of his age, and was killed in his own home where he was entitled to feel safe.
‘You did everything in your power to get away with the murder of Mr Snell.
‘Having systematically cut him to pieces, over a number of days, you went to a badger sett in the hope, no doubt, he would be eaten by badgers. You literally fed him to the badgers.
‘Nothing I can say or do can ease the pain for Mr Snell’s family, friends, and neighbours.’
Jurors were told that Mr Snell, described as a ‘quiet man and good neighbour’, went to police on June 19 last year to complain Walsh had been illegally accessing his bank account.
Peter Joyce QC, prosecuting, said an officer visited Mr Snell’s home in Chesterfield the following morning, but there was no answer.
Police called to Mr Snell’s house in Chesterfield after he reported his problems with Walsh
Walsh spent some of Mr Snell’s money on visiting the above massage parlour
The cause of Mr Snell’s death remains unknown due to the damage to his corpse, while the majority of his body parts were found in the summer of 2019.
Mr Snell’s head and arms were discovered in February this year after Walsh marked their location on a map for officers.
Mr Joyce added: ‘By that time, 9.30am on June 20, Graham Snell was dead and it is the prosecution’s case that he had been killed by Mr Walsh about whom he had made the complaint.
‘The cause of death is unascertained because there were so many body parts, but we know what he did.
‘He killed him, he chopped him up and fed him to the badgers. It was murder to get his hands on this man’s money.’
The court heard that an hour after the officer called round, Walsh, who had not answered the door despite being inside, left the house and walked to a Wickes DIY store where he bought 10 rubble sacks, two saws, and an incinerator.
He used the tools to dismember Mr Snell, and later caught a train to Birmingham where he tried and failed to obtain an emergency passport.
Mr Joyce said: ‘What did he want the saws and the sacks for? He wanted the saws to cut through the bones of the dead body of Graham Snell and the sacks to put parts of his body in the carry them away.’
The prosecutor said two days later Walsh caught a train to Birmingham where he tried and failed to obtain an emergency passport.
He said by June 24 the disposal of Mr Snell’s body began.
Mr Joyce said: ‘Many parts of Graham Snell’s body were either buried or pushed down into various parts of a badger sett.
Walsh ‘took himself away from the horror’ of killing and dismembering the pensioner by visiting the Club Paradise massage parlour in Sheffield
Prosecutors said Walsh visited the massage parlour, pictured, having spent his victim’s life savings on alcohol and gambling
‘Later the police and the Royal Engineers were to spend nearly a month examining the badger sett.
‘The head and arms were buried in parts of a wood a little way away.
‘On July 2, the remainder of Mr Snell’s torso in three parts was recovered inside three black bags from the main rubbish bins that services flats in Oakamoor Close.’
Walsh was due to be sentenced on December 14 but sacked his legal team that morning and the hearing was adjourned until today.
In December, Mr Joyce read out a victim impact statement made by Mr Snell’s family. In it one of his niece’s said: ‘The fact that he was dismembered in such way absolutely disgusts me.
‘Graham had his life cut short in the cruellest of ways and even now before I go to sleep I worry what he suffered and what he went through.
‘Graham was a lovely proud and brave man who kept himself to himself and I never heard him say a bad word about anyone.’
Walsh’s original trial in March of this year, had to be halted due to the ongoing pandemic.
Detective Chief Inspector Sally Blaiklock of Derbyshire Constabulary said after the trial Walsh had committed ‘depraved and truly shocking acts’ on a ‘quiet man and a good neighbour’.
‘They were carried out for his own self-preservation and so he could spend Graham’s small amount of savings at massage parlours, in casinos and on drink and drugs,’ she said.
‘I welcome the verdict and hope this allow Graham’s family, friends and neighbours to come to terms with what happened to a much-loved man who will never be forgotten.’