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Tenant who murdered his landlord before fleeing to Ireland locked up

David Craig Ellis
David Craig Ellis

A tenant who murdered his landlord in south Wales and dumped his body in a quarry before going on the run to Ireland will spend at least the next 26 years behind bars.

David Craig Ellis, 41, smashed the skull of Alec Warburton following a row over unpaid rent last summer.

Weeks before the killing, Ellis had sent a note to his fellow housemates pretending to be the 59-year-old bachelor saying that he was "going away for a while".

After bludgeoning Mr Warburton to death in his own home in Sketty, Swansea, Ellis drove his landlord's lifeless body four hours away to north Wales before throwing it almost 100ft down the side of a disused slate mine.

He later jumped on a ferry from Birkenhead to Belfast before going on the run and was eventually arrested at a guest house in Galway, Ireland, more than a month later.

On Thursday at Swansea Crown Court, Ellis was handed a mandatory life prison sentence with a minimum of 26 years.

Judge Mr Robin Knowles said: "It is a case of particularly high seriousness, statutory aggravating features including planning and concealment of the body."

Ellis moved into Mr Warburton's home in Vivian Road in May 2015 following a break-up with his girlfriend.

But within weeks, the jobless North Walian fell behind with his rent.

Ellis later sent his fellow housemates a letter pretending to be Mr Warburton telling them "he was going away for a while" and they should pay rent to "Dave".

Following the killing, Ellis then used Mr Warburton's green Peugeot to transport his landlord's dead body to north Wales before throwing it into the disused Prince Llewelyn slate quarry in Dolwyddelan.

He later drove back to Swansea before using the vehicle to get to the port at Birkenhead where it was found abandoned.

Detectives later discovered Ellis had boarded a ferry to Belfast before sneaking across the border to Ireland.

A victim impact statement by Graham Warburton described his brother Alec as as a "gentle giant" who would not hurt anyone.

It said: "When I reported Alec missing I was really worried because it was unusual not have daily contact by phone with Alec. We had weeks of stress and anxiety not knowing whether Alec was dead or alive."

Ellis was eventually arrested at the Abbey Lodge guest house in Galway, more than 230 miles from Belfast, on September 18.

Garda Sergeant Adrian O'Neill later said Ellis had asked him to get "Google Maps" on his phone "so he could show where he had dumped a body".

Ellis had admitted manslaughter but denied murder and tried to argue that he lost control and killed Mr Warburton after his landlord "demanded" sex in lieu of the owed rent.

However, during sentencing Mr Justice Knowles dismissed the defendant's version of events, saying he "did not accept" them.

Ellis will be 67 by the time he can be considered for release on licence.