FERNHURST murder victim Michael Griffiths was tortured for £40,000 worth of diamonds thought to be kept in a safe - but were later found by police stored in two picnic flasks, a court heard today (February 17).
Mr Griffiths, 59, was a jewellery maker and antiques buyer, found dead by fire crews at his home in Old Glebe, Fernhurst, on the morning of January 24, 2013.
He had spent the evening of January 23 with his close friend, arriving home at around 11.30pm, where ‘burglars lay in wait’, the court heard. Mr Griffiths kept a large safe in one of the rooms in his house which he used as a workshop. In it, he stored jewellery he made for private clients and other valuable items, including gold.
Mr Griffiths’s brown holdall - which he used daily - was later found by fire crews at the back of his house and upon being searched by police, two diamonds with an estimated worth of around £40,000 were found stored inside two picnic flasks which had removable compartments.
Miss Christine Laing, prosecuting, told jurors how Mr Griffiths’s body was found slumped behind his front door and having broken into his home, burglars then torched it in a bid to destroy any evidence.
Mr Griffiths suffered extensive injuries all over his body and his hands and feet were ‘hog-tied’, leading the first firefighter on the scene to believe he was ‘an amputee below the knees’.
Seven people are standing trial in Hove Crown Court in connection with the murder.
Rebecca Rogers, 39, of Pool End Close, Shepperton, denies conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Simon Penton, 43, of Markway, Sunbury, has admitted conspiracy to burgle homes in Loxwood, Poynings and a home near Godalming as well as Mr Griffiths’ home, but denies murder and conspiracy to pervert the cause of justice.
Kerry Rudder, 43, also of Markway, denies murder, conspiracy to pervert the cause of justice and conspiracy to burgle a home in Loxwood.
Damian Krafft, 27, of High Street, Shepperton, denies murder and conspiracy to pervert the cause of justice.
Zack Cowdrey, 23, of Meadway, Staines denies murder, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and conspiracy to burgle Mr Griffiths’ home.
John Bartholomew, 72, of Cross Street, Portsmouth, denies murder and conspiracy to commit burglaries in Loxwood, Fernhurst and Poynings.
Harvey Mumford, 23, of Monks Way, Staines, has admitted conspiracy to burgle homes in Loxwood, Poynings and Godalming, conspiracy to burgle Mr Griffiths’ home, and conspiracy to pervert the cause of justice. He denies murder.
Proceedings are expected to last between six-eight weeks.
The Observer will have full coverage of the trial. See our website and next week’s paper for an update (February 20).