A woman lured her former boyfriend to a secluded path where he was savagely beaten by her former partner and an accomplice.
Michael Beckwith suffered extensive injuries but appeared to be making good progress and managed to tell police some details of what had happened.
Sadly the care home worker died in hospital two days after he was attacked – on the same day doctors were due to consider allowing him to return home.
A post mortem examination found the preliminary cause of his death was a pulmonary embolism.
Mr Beckwith, 44, had arranged to meet his ex-girlfriend, Rebecca Ryan, on the evening of July 31, 2016 to discuss their relationship, which had ended a few days previously.
He told police that she suggested they go to an area known as Radar Tower in Barrack Lane, Harwich. She directed him up a stony track and they got out, but had only walked a short distance when their way was blocked by a metal gate.
When they turned around, there were two men with their faces covered and holding metal bars. They attacked Mr Beckwith and Ryan claimed she was also punched while trying to intervene.
From his hospital bed, Mr Beckwith told officers he had received a Facebook message from someone he did not know a few days previously, warning him to stay away from Ryan.
He also voiced concern that she had set him up, which she denied, and recalled seeing her former boyfriend, Scott Swift, following the attack.
Ryan, who had dialled 999, claimed Swift had gone to the scene when she told him what had happened.
During the police investigation, witnesses told officers Mr Beckwith had spoken of receiving threats from one of Ryan’s previous boyfriends and her friends.
She told officers she did not know anyone who would want to hurt him.
Swift later told police he had sent the message using a fake profile in the hope Mr Beckwith would leave Ryan alone.
A court heard Mr Beckwith and Ryan had a short but tumultuous relationship and at one point had been engaged to marry.
She was angry about their separation and Swift was still in love with her. Together they planned the attack on Mr Beckwith.
Ryan, 22, a care assistant, of Hilltop Rise, Weeley; Swift, 27, a care assistant, of Station Road, Dovercourt, and Joseph Smith, a student, of Canning Street, Harwich; were charged with murder. Triston Biddlecombe, 24, unemployed, and Enderlein Biddlecombe, 20, unemployed, both of East Street, Harwich, were each charged with perverting the course of justice and assisting an offender. The court heard they had provided an alibi for Swift and washed and burned his and Smith’s clothes.
They denied the charges and stood trial at Chelmsford Crown Court on February 9.
Smith admitted manslaughter during the trial, which was not accepted by the prosecution.
Ryan and Swift were convicted by a jury today, Monday April 3, of murder.
Smith was found not guilty of murder but convicted of manslaughter.
The Biddlecombes were convicted of perverting the course of justice and assisting an offender.
All were remanded in custody and are due to be sentenced on April 21.
Senior investigating officer, Detective Inspector Al Pitcher, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said after the hearing: “This has been a lengthy and complicated investigation and I am pleased with today’s verdicts.
“Ryan had callously planned with her ex-boyfriend Scott Swift to cause Michael serious harm, deliberately trapping him in a secluded area where Swift and Joseph Smith laid in wait, hiding in the undergrowth.
“Michael pleaded with them that he did not want any trouble. But they shrugged and then repeatedly beat him about the head, torso and legs with metal bars.
“Ryan then left enough time for Swift and Smith to escape before calling the police and claimed it was a random attack.
“A few minutes later, she and Swift had a pre-arranged phone conversation to give him his opportunity to return to the scene in an effort to pretend he was a concerned friend.
“He even asked Michael ‘What have they done to you?’.
“Later, Swift attempted to suggest that the blood on his clothing was a result of this second visit.
“After their arrest, incriminating coded text messages were discovered on their mobile phones, which demonstrated a significant degree of pre-meditation.
“Smith had maintained that he did not intend to cause Michael serious harm although accepted that he was involved in the attack.
“The Biddlecombes attempted to interfere with justice by telling the police that Swift was at home with them during the attack and that he only left their home once he had spoken to Ryan.
“They also tried to destroy evidence by washing clothing belonging to the attackers.
“I would like to thank Michael’s family for working with us during this very difficult time and pay tribute to them for their dignity and restraint.
“My thoughts are very much with them and I hope that today’s verdicts are of some comfort to them.
“I would also like to pay tribute to all of the witnesses that had the courage to attend court to give evidence in this case.”
Michael’s family said: “Words cannot express the shock and pain we as a family have suffered since Michael’s early passing.
“His loss is beyond words, especially the events that led to his death.
“Michael had a big heart, as big as the world.
“He would have given the shirt off his back to help anyone if asked.
“He was compassionate, caring and loving. He would judge no-one and was considerate to all.
“He was a gentle giant.
“His death has left a gaping hole in our family but also with those who knew Michael and those he cared for within his role as a healthcare assistant.
“Michael was not just a carer at work, he also was the main carer for his mother Iris, who had already suffered the early loss of her husband and daughter and who now had to go through the loss of her devoted son, on whom she relied upon a great deal.
“We as a family believe that the death of Michael had affected Iris so much that before the trial she too passed away after suffering a heart attack.
“The only way we as a family are dealing with this grief is that Iris and Michael are reunited with Dave, Michael’s father, and Debbie, his sister, in their passing.”