Cornish drug murder details still not explained, inquest rules
The last moments of two gangland drugs enforcers who were gunned down on a remote Cornish farm are no closer to being known despite an inquest in Truro yesterday.
Mystery still surrounds the exact circumstances of the deaths of David Griffiths and Brett Flournoy whose bodies were found near St Austell in July 2011 following a murder investigation by police after they were declared missing.
Griffiths' family demanded an inquest take place in May last year after declaring themselves unhappy with the information given in a Crown Court trial in which one man, Thomas Haigh, was sentenced to life for the pair's murder and another, Ross Stone, jailed for five years after admitting burning and burying their bodies.
At an inquest in Truro yesterday, case officer Detective Sergeant Steve Hambly said both men were fatally wounded by a shotgun. However, Cornwall coroner Emma Carlyon registered the cause of the death of both men as unascertained after a pathologist declared she could not "completely exclude" additional injuries due to Stone's attempts to destroy evidence and conceal the bodies. Boxer and pub landlord Flournoy, 31, from Bebington on the Wirral, Merseyside, and father-of-three Griffiths, 35, from Bracknell, Berkshire, were last seen on June 16, 2011, in Saltash as they headed to Sunny Corner at Trenance Downs near St Austell. It was revealed in court last year that Haigh had been sent down by the two men to "babysit" Stone and a crop of cannabis he was growing at the farm but had shot them after they demanded he went to Brazil to smuggle cocaine.
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The two men's bodies were unearthed after Stone, who along with Haigh owed the dead men about £40,000 in drug debts, confessed to having disposed of their corpses. The inquest heard how Stone, who said he had found the drug dealers' lifeless bodies, had initially buried them on the farm before becoming scared and digging up their corpses and re-burying them in their van which he set alight with them inside.
Amanda Jeffery, forensic pathologist, said both men's bodies were badly damaged by the fire but that shotgun pellets had been found in the right side of Griffith's shoulder and face and that Flournoy was most likely to have received shots to the back and legs. However, she said the state of the bodies meant that it was "not possible to completely exclude additional injuries".
DS Hambly said shotgun pellets on the front wall of the property indicated Flournoy was shot in "close proximity to the farmhouse."
He said he believed the murders would have taken place between 9.06pm when Flournoy's phone was last used and 9.49pm by which time Haigh was spotted well away from the scene.
He added he would have no hesitation in saying that the deaths were as a result of unlawful killing,
Cornwall coroner Dr Emma Carlyon ruled that both men were unlawfully killed but classified the cause of death as unascertained. She said both men travelled to St Austell on June 16 with "a view to criminal drug activities" . She said: "They had been shot by a gun and then buried in a pit in the ground sometime before July 13 2011 before being burned and then reburied and the car set alight."