A honeytrap model who lured a man to his death with ‘booty messages’ before he was tortured and dumped in a river has been jailed for life along with five others.
Coral Edgar, 26, enticed Lee McKnight, 26, to her home in Carlisle with the promise of sex before he was subjected to a horrific two-hour beating before he was thrown into a river where he drowned, a court has heard.
Mr McKnight, who sold cannabis and cocaine, had owed a drug debt to dealer Jamie Davison, 26, a ‘middle man’ who himself owed £2,000 from his half-a-million pound narcotics empire which had gone to ground.
Davison persuaded Edgar to send the messages to her one-time lover McKnight so he could be ‘made an example of’.
She invited him to her home at 2am on July 24 last year, where Mr McKnight was tied to a chair and subjected to a beating so savage that it left him ‘on the point of death.’
Model Coral Edgar, 26, was forced to ‘lure’ her ex-boyfriend over with sexual messages before helping a group of five others beat, whip, drown, and murder Lee McKnight, 26.
Lee McKnight, 26, (above) was tied to a chair and left looking like a ‘torture victim’ after being beaten for two hours and then thrown into a river to drown
Davison had organised the violence, recruiting Arron Graham, 26, and Jamie Lee Roberts, 18, as ‘extra muscle’.
After the beating, the group dumped Lee in a river in south Carlisle where he drowned. His body was found by a farmer a few hours later.
A pathologist who examined his body said that his injuries – which included 36 separate head-wounds, a fractured skull and several broken ribs – made him look like a ‘torture victim.’
He was punched, kicked, stamped on, beaten and whipped with a riding crop belonging to Coral’s mum Carol, 47, which she bought from a sex shop.
Jamie Davison, 26, (left) was the ‘middle-man’ for McKnight in a £500,000 a year operation, who sold cannabis and cocaine. Jamie Lee Roberts (right) was recruited as ‘extra muscle’
The judge said he is ‘absolutely sure’ Roberts and Graham (left) drowned McKnight in a river in south Carlisle while he was still alive after Edgar (right) lured him to her house
Paul Roberts, 51, admitted helping his son Jamie Lee Roberts, by taking him fresh clothes after the attack and destroying blood-stained clothes.
He also claimed he tried to help Lee when he saw how badly injured he was.
During the trial, all six defendants blamed each other for Lee’s death.
The defendants denied murder but were convicted after a trial lasting several weeks and were jailed for a total of 119 and a half years today.
The Honourable Mr Justice Hilliard said Davison and Graham both knew that Lee was alive and that they both chose to deliberately drown him.
The judge said: ‘I am sure that Davison and Graham put him in the river. They drowned him. Deliberately.
‘This was in my judgement murder for gain and a murder intended to obstruct the course of justice.’
Carol Edgar, 47, allowed the group to use her Nissan Navara to take McKnight to the river but claims she was never physically involved in the attack
Paul Roberts, 51, claims he only got involved in the murder to help his son, Jamie Lee Roberts. He admitted to bringing his son clean clothes and burning the blood-stained ones
The judge sentenced all of them to life in prison for their involvement in the murder of McKnight.
Coral Edgar was handed a minimum term of 13-and-a-half years, while Carol Edgar was jailed for at least 13 years.
Davison was given the longest sentence with a minimum of 30 years while Graham, who dumped Mr McKnight in the river, was given 26 years.
Jamie Lee Roberts, 18, was jailed for at least 16 and a half years while Paul Roberts was given 20 and a half years.
Carlisle Crown Court has heard a heartbreaking statement from Lee’s mother Wendy McKnight.
She said: ‘You don’t expect your son to be murdered and taken away so soon without even being given a chance to say goodbye.
‘We do try to go about our lives as normally as we can but underneath our hearts are broken. He was loved by so many and we were proud to call him our son.
‘This has pushed our family to the limit.
‘He was always polite and courteous and always had time to chat. He was thoughtful and never missed special occasions – father’s and mother’s day, birthdays and Christmas.’
Ms McKnight told the court she was continuously haunted by thoughts of what he went through while in the ‘torture chamber’ where he was ‘brutally beaten’ to within an inch of his life.
The statement continued: ‘It was hard to believe that Lee will never walk through our front door again and there will always be a spare seat at our table – we will miss his smiling face and infectious laugh.
‘Every family has lost a loved one through different causes, but this is a lot different and we will miss Lee so much
‘No sentence will bring back our son but will give us peace that those responsible for playing a part in his death have been brought to justice.’
The court heard that Jamie Lee Roberts was to be rewarded for helping with the violence by having his drugs debt to wiped out.
Jamie Davison smiled while watching the hearing over a video link as Richard Littler QC told the court that Roberts junior was recruited as ‘extra muscle’.
Mr Litter said: ‘We submit that this was a young lad [Jamie Lee Roberts] who was way, way, out of his depth. This is a young man who needs help.’
Caroline Goodwin QC, representing Coral Edgar, said the defendant had found herself at the heart of a ‘perfect storm’ of circumstances, which left her vulnerable to manipulation.
She had recognised mental health issues, a worsening drugs addiction, and the imminent threat of eviction.
Ms Goodwin said: ‘She was not responsible for the delivery of the violence, and she had no control over the extent of the violence which was to be used.
‘She was herself in a state of shock at what she found herself being involved in.’
Toby Hedworth QC, defending Carol Edgar, 47, said she had not been physically involved in the attack on Lee McKnight.
The prosecution says she allowed her Nissan Navara to be used following the savage attack to pick up and transport Lee to the river where he was dumped.
Gordon Cole QC, representing the oldest of the Lee McKnight killers, Paul Roberts, said that he had only got involved because he was trying to help his son Jamie Lee Roberts.
Mr Cole said: ‘He had no part in any planning, and there was no financial gain for him.’