A Preston man has been jailed for the murder of his vulnerable friend after subjecting him to a number of assaults.
Darren Taylor (pictured below), 45, of no fixed address was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 20 years at Preston Crown today (Friday, March 20th) after being found guilty of murdering Steven May, 50.
He was last seen alive on the evening of Saturday 18th May last year on Raven Street after visiting his local shop and was found dead at his address on the same street, Preston on the morning of Sunday 19th May, after one final beating at the hands of Taylor.
Taylor – Steven’s lodger - reported finding Steven deceased on an upstairs bed but it believed that he had struck Steven several times in the downstairs living room at some point after he was last sighted on CCTV. The assault was so bad that Steven’s jaw was fractured in two places and had he have survived, he would have been left unable to eat, drink or speak. He had also suffered a black eye and swollen ear.
Taylor moved in to Steven’s address in February 2019 and began to control his finances, which included having ownership of his bank card and withdrawing his money. He even continued to withdraw Steven’s money after he died.
In the weeks after Taylor started living with Steven, family and care workers noticed how his demeanour changed. He rarely went out of the house, became withdrawn, stopped grooming himself and lost a significant amount of weight. He was just six-and-a-half stone at the time of his death.
A subsequent post mortem examination revealed that Steven had subjected to at least five assaults, leaving him with 76 rib fractures, some of which were over four months old.
It was found that the increasing difficulty for Steven to breathe due to his rib injuries, as well as the pain and significant blood loss he suffered after the fractures to his jaw, caused his death. Some of his injuries were consistent with being struck by a blunt object as well as being punched, stamped on and kicked.
Senior investigating officer, DCI Derry Crorken, said: “Darren Taylor is a greedy, callous bully who inflicted unnecessary cruelty, violence and control over a vulnerable man whom he drained financially, mentally and eventually, physically.
“Steven was especially vulnerable due to being dependant on alcohol and suffering from epilepsy, which Darren took full advantage of.
“Subjecting Steven to serious beatings wasn’t enough for Taylor, he also spent thousands of pounds of Steven’s money which he had inherited from his mother after she died.
“He made him miserable, controlling him to the point of taking his bank card, money and telling him what he was able to buy at his local shop, where Steven was a known, regular customer.
“Not only that, after reporting finding Steven dead, Taylor told Steven’s relatives and a neighbour that he must have fallen over, as if it was some kind of accident or natural causes due to his epilepsy or drinking, when in fact he knew that he was the reason Steven was dead.
“Steven would have been in a significant and unimaginable amount of pain in the weeks and time just before he died, which must have been incredibly hard for his family to hear. The amount of force used to cause these injuries, which are the worst I have seen in my career, would have been considerable. The last time he was seen on CCTV, he was shuffling, which we think is because he was struggling to breathe.
“I am pleased with today’s result and hope that Steven’s family will now be able to move forward with their lives.”