A burglar who murdered an ex-Royal Navy officer by running him over with his own car has been sentenced to at least 27 years in prison.
Ryan Gibbons was jailed at Manchester Crown Court after being convicted of the murder of nuclear engineer Mike Samwell on Tuesday.
The jury took just three and half hours to convict 29-year-old Gibbons, who killed Samwell, 35, as his wife Jessica watched in horror, the Press Association reported.
The court heard how the couple were woken in the dead of night in April 2017 when Gibbons broke into their £450,000 Manchester home and snatched the keys to Samwell’s Audi S3 sports car.
Gibbons reversed over Samwell then drove over his victim a second time as the former serviceman tried to stop his £36,000 car being stolen.
According to the BBC, Samwell’s widow sobbed as she told the court she found her husband lying on the ground with “blood coming out of his head”.
“When I got to him he had tyre marks across his chest,” she said. “I was shouting, ‘Help! Help! Somebody help me!’
“I was just telling him that I loved him and holding his hand.”
Gibbons, of Steven Court, Chorlton, had pleaded guilty to burglary and aggravated vehicle taking but denied murder.
He told the jury he did not see Samwell, or deliberately run over him, but heard “screaming” and thought “something had gone under the wheel” before speeding off.
Gibbons said the plan was to sell the stolen Audi – worth £36,000 – for £2,000.
Passing sentence Mr Justice William Davis told Gibbons: “You are a dangerous young man, you are a regular burglar and on this occasion, to get what you wanted, you quite ruthlessly killed a man.”
Jessica, who was supported by her husband’s family, quietly wept as the verdict was read.
Speaking from the witness box before sentencing, she said: “There are no words that can truly express how the loss of Mike has affected me.
“I feel overwhelming grief for the future we will never have, the birthdays and anniversaries, and to think of the children we will never share is devastating.”
A second man – Raymond Davies – was also convicted of manslaughter and taking a vehicle without consent after he collected Gibbons in his blue BMW after the murder and dropped him off at home.
Davies, who pleaded guilty to burglary at an earlier hearing, was on Wednesday sentenced to eight years in prison, the Manchester Evening News reported.
In a statement, Samwell’s family called his death a “senseless waste of life”.
“Mike was one of those rare people who was loved by everyone who met him,” they said.
“He saw the potential in people and would go above and beyond to help them to realise it. His outlook on life was always positive, even in the face of hardship and adversity he would have a smile and an awful joke ready to lighten the situation.
“One of the most important and inspiring things about Mike was the passion and drive that he poured into absolutely everything he did and everyone he loved; he did so with what appeared to be boundless energy and enthusiasm.
They added: “There isn’t enough time and definitely not enough words to express how proud we are of Mike. We can’t even begin to explain how much our Mike will be missed. To us he was, and forever will be, our hero.”