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Men viciously attacked homeless man before setting him on fire in brutal murder

Luke Benson, one of two men who carried out the shocking attack
Luke Benson, one of two men who carried out the shocking attack

Two men have been jailed for the brutal murder of a 23-year-old homeless man in Greater Manchester who was viciously attacked and then set on fire in a tent.

Daniel Smith was subjected to a catalogue of violence underneath a railway arch in Salford by Luke Benson, 25, and Adam Acton, 25, who punched and stamped on him before using a hammer, bat and broom to beat him.

Benson, of no fixed address, was sentenced to 21 years in prison, while Acton, also of no fixed address, was jailed for 22 years after they were found guilty of the murder at Manchester Crown Court.

Jurors at the trial were told how the victim had been taking shelter under a railway arch by Trinity Way and Irwell Street in Ordsall, accompanied by Benson, Acton and Acton's 28-year-old girlfriend Amanda Briggs.

Greater Manchester Police said that some time between their arrival and 6pm on January 20, Mr Smith, who had been sleeping, woke up and urinated on a sleeping bag belonging to one of the group.

Adam Acton

In retaliation, Benson, who had been drinking, punched Mr Smith in the head before throwing a bottle at the victim, smashing it inches from his head.

Benson then threw a chair at him.

Police said that Acton and Briggs then stole the victim's phone and tablet and punched, kicked and stamped on him.

Briggs put on headphones to drown out the sound of Mr Smith, who was left writhing in pain.

Acton continued the beating using the weapons.

Mr Smith, who suffered severe facial injuries and bruised legs, was then moved under a tent and left.

The group left the arch at around 8pm, with Acton bragging that he and Benson had just beaten someone up and hit him with a hammer.

At 9.45pm Benson bought a cigarette lighter and a large canister of lighter fuel and returned to the arch.

After checking for a pulse, Benson suggested they set the tent on fire.

Emergency services were called just after 1.20am and extinguished the fire and found Mr Smith's burned body.

Superintendent Emily Higham, from Greater Manchester Police, said: "Benson and Acton subjected Daniel to a sustained, violent and sickening assault before setting fire to him in an attempt to hide what they had done.

"While this sentence can never make up for what this man's family have lost, I hope it can help bring some closure to them after this tragic attack."

Gail O'Brien, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West, said: "Luke Benson and Adam Acton carried out a brutal and sustained attack on Daniel Smith, a fellow homeless man, after he had accidentally urinated on bedding within the camp. They then attempted to dispose of his body by setting fire to him.

"Daniel Smith stood no chance of defending himself against the level of violence inflicted upon him that night. Their attack was utterly disproportionate to the disagreement they had had with him. They also attempted to cover their tracks by taking Daniel's belongings from him, destroyed them and hiding them from the police."

Briggs and a 17-year-old man both pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice at an earlier hearing for their role in removing, damaging and concealing items belonging to Mr Smith.

Briggs, of no fixed address, was sentenced to 12 months in prison for perverting the course of justice and the 17-year-old was sentenced to 18 months for perverting the course of justice.