Page last updated at 11:13 GMT, Thursday, 31 July 2008 12:13 UK

Care worker is jailed for murder

Shane Edge, Thelma Purchase and Lance Rudge
Edge, Purchase and Rudge hoped to benefit from the inheritance fund

A care worker who murdered a disabled man for his 70,000 inheritance fund has been told she will spend at least 30 years in jail.

Thelma Purchase, 44, was found guilty earlier this month of the murder of Greg Baker who was found dead at his cottage in Alton, Staffs, in June 2007.

Her son Lance Rudge, 20, and his friend Shane Edge, 21, were also convicted of the murder at Stafford Crown Court.

They were told they would serve minimum terms of 18 years and 20 years.

Passing the sentences, Mr Justice Saunders said it had been a "truly horrible crime".

Mr Baker, 61, who was left disabled by childhood polio and also suffered from muscular dystrophy, was found suffocated during a routine care visit on 16 June 2007.

'Truly horrible crime'

The five week-trial heard how mother-of-three Purchase had promised to pay both her son, who lived with his mother in Sherwood Road, Meir, Stoke-on-Trent, and his friend 8,000 each if they helped her carry out the murder.

The case heard how Edge, of Clivedon Place, Longton, used a pillow to smother the victim in Mr Baker's bedroom after entering his home, which was often unlocked.

Greg Baker
Greg Baker's body was found on a routine visit

Police officers described the murder as a "cowardly, callous contract-style killing motivated purely by greed".

Mr Justice Saunders told the three defendants they had murdered a "generous, intelligent and well-loved man".

He added that Purchase would have known that Mr Baker was unable to defend himself and left his door unlocked at night.

The judge said: "I have to sentence you for a truly horrible crime.

"A disabled man aged 61 was murdered in his own bed... in his own home with his own pillow."

All three defendants denied playing any part in the killing despite mobile phone evidence linking Purchase to the Alton area and testimony that the male defendants had talked about suffocating a man to trigger a payment from a will.

Det Ch Insp Ken Raper, who led the inquiry, said it had been a "cowardly, callous contract-style killing motivated purely by greed".

Thelma Purchase recruited her son and his friend to carry out the murder

Carer killed man for inheritance
10 Jul 08 |  Staffordshire
Disabled man murder jury retires
09 Jul 08 |  Staffordshire
Three deny inheritance death plot
01 Jul 08 |  Staffordshire

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Birmingham Post Trio guilty of killing disabled man to benefit from his will - 37 hrs ago
Biggleswade Chronicle Trio convicted of disabled man's murder - 40 hrs ago

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