A mechanic who killed a Lancing father has been jailed after being found guilty of manslaughter.
Colin Gale, 40, was sentenced for 15 years and eight months for killing and preventing the lawful burial of bomb-disposal expert Mark Manning when he appeared at Lewes Crown Court this morning.
A jury found Gale, of Offington Lane in Worthing, guilty of manslaughter with loss of control last month. He had already pleaded guilty to preventing lawful burial of Mr Manning’s body.
His accomplice Stewart Robertson was also sentenced for preventing lawful burial after being found guilty. Robertson, 51, of St Aubyns Road in Fishersgate, was jailed for four years.
Mr Manning was last seen alive in April 2014. It was not until last year that remains identified as Mr Manning were found near Hampshire Hill in Mid Sussex, more than 20 miles from where he lived.
Earlier in the trial Gale told the court that Mr Manning had attacked him with an axe, saying that he swung out with a wrench to keep Mr Manning away.
Gale said the object he struck Mr Manning with was a metre-long, industrial Stillson wrench, which was heavier than he had expected. “Then I just went out of control,” he said.
“I was terrified I was going to get the axe one way or another,” Colin Gale told the jury.
He went on to tell the court how he and Robertson had taken Mr Manning’s body into the countryside and hid it.
It was not found for more than two years until Robertson led the police to its location.
Judge Shani Barnes told Gale: “You killed Mark Manning in a short momentary act of violence when you lost control.
“But you regained your composure enough to cover up what you had done by calling upon Stewart Robertson, who relied on you, to help you dispose of Mark’s body, get rid of the weapon and the mobile phones and then lie to Mark’s family about his whereabouts and misdirect the police.”
In a statement Mr Manning’s son Kane, 18, said: “My father was a hero, he saved many people’s lives around the world with his mine clearance work.
“I had an amazing bond with my father and I find it hard knowing my dad will never be around to see me grow up. I am so glad that justice has prevailed in the end.”
Judge Barnes also took time to thank police for their efforts in securing a conviction:
“I would like to commend the Sussex Police investigation team for their hard work in what was a difficult and complex case. “They conducted themselves in a professional and exemplary manner including the way they dealt with Robertson and gained his trust so that he could show them where Mark’s body was.”
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