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10th Dec 2021

Former Channel 4 Dispatches researcher tortured father-of-two to death in front of his children

Steve Hopkins

Brian Waters was hung upside down by his ankles, electrocuted, beaten with weapons, and burned

An undercover TV researcher who worked on Channel 4’s Dispatches has been found guilty of torturing a father-of-two to death in front of his children at a cannabis farm.

Christopher Guest More Jnr, who was once one of Europe’s most wanted men, was on Thursday convicted of the murder of Brian Waters by a jury following a month-long retrial.

The 43-year-old shook his head as the verdict was delivered after jurors deliberated for 12 hours and 14 minutes before reaching a majority of 10 to two.

Justice Peter Openshaw, who had given a direction for a majority verdict, is due to pass sentence on Friday.

Waters, 44, was killed in a disused cowshed at Burnt House Farm in Tabley, near junction 19 of the M6 for Knutsford, Cheshire, on 19 June 2003.

The court heard he was hung upside down by his ankles, beaten with weapons, and burned with melting plastic in front of his own children over a £20,000 drug debt.

He finally succumbed to more than 100 separate injuries, Chester Crown Court heard.

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More remained at large for nearly two decades before his capture two years ago, having been added to Europe’s most wanted list.

He was also found guilty of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm to a second worker at the drugs farm.

The defendant, who was 25 at the time, was part of a gang who travelled to the site in the early hours and ransacked the grow before torturing Suleman Razak, who worked at the cannabis farm.

Razak was punched and kicked in the face numerous times and knocked unconscious before being hung upside down by his ankles and lowered into a barrel that was filled up with water.

After being electrocuted, he was burned with acid, had a pillowcase placed over his head and set on fire, and was attacked with a staple gun.

It was then that Waters arrived at the scene and was similarly set upon, the court heard.

Waters was lowered into the barrel of water and beaten with bamboo canes with such ferocity that they snapped, as well as being struck with a metal bar.

A bin bag was also suspended above his head and set alight, causing melting plastic to drip down onto his head.

His son Gavin and daughter Natalie, who had celebrated her 21st birthday the previous day, then attended and were attacked.

Natalie had the barrel of a gun placed in her mouth, the court heard.

They were tied up and forced to watch as their father was murdered by his attackers.

At the same time, the Waters’ family home in Nantwich, Cheshire, was raided by two men who then transported the victim’s wife Julie to the farm.

But the assailants fled when the police arrived simultaneously, with officers discovering Brian Waters’ lifeless body in a milking parlour.

A Home Office post-mortem investigation recorded a cause of death of multiple injuries – including fractured ribs, a broken nose and breastbone, a bleed on the brain, and bruising to the heart.

Evidence of strangulation was also found, while he had suffered burns to his back from a ‘caustic substance’ and had been attacked using the staple gun across his head and body.

Several items discovered at the scene – including a bottle of Sprite, cigarette ends, a glove, and human waste – revealed forensic links to More.

More returned to his then home at Burford Lane Farm, alongside co-conspirator Otis Matthews, in the evening after the killing and then flew to Malaga from Liverpool John Lennon Airport two days later.

More was wanted for more than 15 years before being detained in an apartment in Malta on a European arrest warrant in 2019.

He had claimed to be called Andrew Christopher Lamb and possessed false documentation including a British passport in this name.

In early 2020, the former undercover TV researcher was extradited back to the UK and pleaded not guilty to murder as well as conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm to Razak.

A jury in a previous trial held at the same court earlier this year then failed to reach a verdict.

More admitted having been present while associates of gangster John Wilson stole the cannabis and cultivating equipment in the hours leading up to the killing but claimed to have left the farm before the violence unfolded.

He also denied any prior knowledge of a plot to attack either Waters or Razak. Three other conspirators – Wilson, and Matthews, and More’s cousin James Raven – were previously convicted of Waters’ murder following trials in 2004 and 2007 and were jailed for life.

A statement read by Waters family, issued after the verdict, said they were “delighted” by the verdict and went on to describe how the killing had “a significant and long-lasting effect on our family”.

“We will never be able to forget events of that day and, even now, more than 18 years down the line, we feel the pain on a daily basis with constant flashbacks,” the statement reads.

“We have remained a close-knit family and have provided much-needed support to each other – but this has been an isolating experience for us and not only have we lived in fear of reprisals we have also struggled to trust others as we normally would.

“It’s similar to the feelings people have experienced in the current Covid crisis – not being able to leave their home and having to stay inside to feel safe. We have been living like that for more than 18 years.

“But we never gave up hope and the verdict today marks the end of an incredibly painful journey in our lives. “We would now ask that our privacy is respected and we are left alone as a family as we try and move forward with the next chapter of our lives.”