Victim Liam Dent
Man found guilty of murder following collision in Chessington
Two men have been convicted more than two years after the murder of Liam Dent who was intentionally struck by a stolen car in Chessington.
Martin Eastwood, 22, of Conifer Park, Kiln Way, Epsom was convicted of murder at the Old Bailey on Monday, 7 March.
Daniel Morris, 22, of no fixed address had previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
A third person, Jasmine Robinson, 19, of Stoneleigh Crescent, Epsom was convicted of assisting an offender.
The jury heard that, despite the stolen car being set on fire to destroy any evidence, detectives – working closely with an expert witness – were able to piece together the movements of vehicles involved and prove the driver’s actions on the night.
Detective Inspector Garth Hall, from the Specialist Crime Command, said: “This was a demanding investigation as, despite significant evidence, we required witnesses to come forward and tell us what they had seen in order to understand the circumstances of that night’s tragic events.
“The actions of Martin Eastwood were callous and intentional, Liam did not stand a chance when he was struck by the car and dragged along the road to his death.
“The thoughts of my team are with Liam’s family and friends today. They have finally got the verdict they have been longing for;”
In the early hours of 26 July 2019, 25-year-old Liam was struck by a Ford S-MAX on Osborne Way in Chessington and dragged for half a mile under the vehicle.
The driver failed to stop at the scene, and the car was later found burnt out on Cyclamen Way in Epsom, about one mile from the collision site.
Emergency services attended and provided Liam with first aid. Despite their efforts, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
A post-mortem examination held at Kingston Mortuary on 27 July 2019 established the cause of death as multiple injuries, further noting that some showed evidence of prolonged dragging.
Detectives from the Specialist Crime Command launched a murder investigation and established that Liam and his friends had been involved in an altercation with the occupants of a stolen Volvo V40 outside a local Chessington pub where they had been drinking. Words had been exchanged, and a number of items thrown. No one was injured during this incident.
Later that night, as Liam was going home with his friends, he was struck by the Ford S-MAX.
An extensive review of CCTV cameras in the area led detectives to footage that showed two vehicles – the Ford S-MAX and a black BMW, which was also stolen – travelling in convoy shortly before Liam was struck.
Earlier footage showed the Ford and the Volvo travelling together. The Volvo was subsequently found burnt out on Alexandra Road in Epsom.
Analysis of telematics data recovered from the Ford was able to confirm its location at the time of the collision. The system also recorded its speed, proving that it had been stationary on the road where Liam was walking shortly before accelerating towards him in the moments before he was struck. Conclusive evidence also linked Eastwood to the vehicle.
The investigation continued, and 10 people were arrested between August and December 2019 on suspicion of offences including murder and perverting the course of justice. Ahead of the first anniversary of Liam’s murder, detectives and his family, renewed appeals to the public for information and on 16 October 2020, two men, Eastwood and Morris, were charged with Liam’s murder.
Detectives discovered that Robinson had helped Eastwood to travel to Sheffield shortly after the murder. She bought coach tickets and searched for details of the murder on her mobile phone.
All three will be sentenced on Thursday, 31 March.
Detective Inspector Hall added: “Robinson may not have been at the scene that night, but her behaviour following Liam’s murder was calculated. It is only right that she too has been convicted for the part that she played.”