LONDON (Reuters) - A man who murdered a kitchen salesman before scattering his severed body parts across two counties was jailed for life on Monday.
St Albans Crown Court heard Jeffrey Howe had let Stephen Marshall and his girlfriend Sarah Bush live at his flat when they needed somewhere to stay, but during this time Marshall stabbed Howe in the back and dismembered his body.
Marshall, 38, of Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, and Bush, 21, then took over the property, selling Howe’s belongings online and helping themselves to money from his bank account, the Press Association reported.
Describing Marshall as a man with a record of violence and past association with hardened criminals, the judge said he would serve a minimum of 36 years in prison.
Bush was acquitted of murder but was given two concurrent jail sentences for helping dispose of his body parts and giving false information about his whereabouts during a police investigation into his disappearance.
She had acted under pressure from Marshall, her lawyer said, and was scared of what he might do to her.
Howe, 49, became known as the “jigsaw man” after a series of macabre finds by members of the public in March and April last year which began with the discovery of a left leg in a lay-by in Cottered, Hertfordshire.
A week later an arm, dismembered at the elbow and wrist, was discovered on a grass verge in Wheathampstead, about a 40-minute drive from Cottered.
Two days after that, a farmer unearthed the head on his land in Asfordby, Leicestershire, about 100 miles from Wheathampstead. The flesh of the scalp and face had been removed and the ears, tongue and parts of the neck had been cut away.
Howe’s torso, right arm and upper left arm were then recovered from a suitcase dumped in a ditch in Standon, Hertfordshire.
Marshall, who had links with a London criminal family and had boasted of his skill at butchering corpses, also admitted helping chop up the bodies of four other men in the 1990s, his lawyer Peter Doyle, told the court.
At the start of the three-week trial Marshall admitted dismembering Howe’s body and disposing of the parts in different places but had denied murder. He changed his plea to guilty on Friday.
Reporting by Kylie MacLellan