Trio jailed for ‘shallow grave murder’ near Doncaster

The area where Alan Easton was murdered.
The area where Alan Easton was murdered.
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A femme fatale, her ex-lover and his friend have each been jailed for life after they slit a man’s throat and buried him alive in a shallow grave.

Black widow Angela Dowling, Matthew Duffy and Stephen Schofield were given the maximum penalty – a combined total of at least 74 years – for the brutal murder of Alan Easton near Doncaster.

A court heard the trio lured their 50-year-old victim down a dark country lane in Everton before he was stabbed and beaten numerous times and buried while still breathing.

The callous killers then celebrated with a party.

Jailing them at Nottingham Crown Court yesterday, Judge Greg Dickinson QC said: “Mr Easton was brutally murdered, and the three of you will now waste the rest of your lives in prison.”

Mr Easton was beaten with heavy rocks, had his throat cut, and was stabbed about 12 times before he was buried in a makeshift grave while still breathing.

A week earlier he had got engaged to long time friend mum-of-four Dowling, aged 48, and moved from Dumbartonshire, Scotland, into her home in Windmill Avenue, Conisbrough.

But soon Dowling learned he had spent the £40,000 inheritance his adopted dad left him - and she falsely alleged to her ex-lover Schofield, 33, who had lived at her home for the past five years, and his friend Duffy, 23, that Mr Easton had acted inappropriately towards a teenage girl.

She also said indecent images of children had been found on Mr Easton’s computer.

Ian Unsworth QC, prosecuting, said Mr Easton was duped into thinking he was going out for a meal when he got into a car with the trio.

Instead Dowling drove them to farmland where Schofield and Duffy led Mr Easton down a dark track and ‘executed’ him.

The trio returned to Conisbrough and drank alcohol they bought from a supermarket and smoked cannabis. CCTV showed they laughed while buying drinks.

Dowling also hooked up with a stranger from an online dating website and had sex.

The next day she claimed Mr Easton - described during the trial as ‘down to earth’ - had returned to Scotland following an argument. She traded in her engagement ring and some of Mr Easton’s possessions for £170.

Mr Easton’s body was found off Everton Lane the day after the attack on February 2 last year.

Dowling and Duffy, of Sussex Street, Balby, had denied murder. Dowling told police she did not know what happened to Mr Easton after he got out of her car. Duffy claimed he was asleep in the vehicle during the murder.

Schofield told police they had intended to just ‘scare’ Mr Easton but the attack got out of hand. He later admitted murder.

Dowling and Duffy will each serve a minimum of 26 years.

Schofield was given credit for his guilty plea and will be eligible for parole after 22 years.

Judge Dickinson QC described Dowling as the ‘prime mover’ who had recruited Schofield and Duffy.

“This was a premeditated attack. You were all acting together,” he told them.

He added indecent images had in fact been found on Mr Easton’s computer, and the trio should have told police.

After the case, Detective Inspector Leigh Sanders said: “This was a brutal attack. We are happy the sentences reflect the very serious nature of the crime.”