David Carney, 38, of Argosy Avenue, Blackpool, was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 16 years and seven months at Preston Crown Court after pleading guilty to the murder of Raymond Cullen in October 2019.
Tracey Fielding, 47, of Victoria Street, Fleetwood, admitted manslaughter and was handed a nine-year and nine month term.
The pair had been arrested after Mr Cullen’s body was found at his home address in Bold Street around 2.15am on October 10, 2019.
Mr Cullen (pictured below, with his grandson, Jace), 55, also known as ‘Irish Ray’, was sadly pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics, having suffered a violent assault, including significant head injuries and bruising to his arms, legs and body. Paint had been poured over him with footprints found around his body.
A Home Office post-mortem examination later found Mr Cullen died as a result of head injuries.
Detectives launched a murder investigation and following enquiries were approached by a witness who said they had spoken with Fielding at The Bug Pub in Fleetwood.
Fielding, Mr Cullen’s former partner, said her boyfriend, David Carney, had ‘left Ray for dead’ and she was going to be arrested for conspiracy and be sent to prison.
Police discovered previous incidents involving Fielding and Mr Cullen during their relationship.
Officers immediately arrested Carney and Fielding on suspicion of murder.
A review of CCTV footage found around 1.50am on October 8, 2019, David Carney had approached Mr Cullen’s address. David Carney later re-appeared around 1.55am walking away from the area. Audio recording from the CCTV was to reveal the onset of the violent and unprovoked attack upon Mr Cullen.
Following the attack, Carney had poured paint all over Mr Cullen’s body. He was also wearing a Superdry jacket and distinctive Timberland footwear.
Police searched Carney’s address, with the jacket and Timberland boots (pictured) recovered – matching the paint footprints at the scene in Bold Street. Tests also found traces of Mr Cullen’s blood on the boots.
Following Mr Cullen’s death, officers found Fielding had spoken to a relative on October 9 confirming Carney had ‘sorted Ray’.
A day later, Carney had a text conversation where he referred to having ‘got rid’ of Mr Cullen saying he ‘won’t be causing any more problems ever’.
Further text messages were exchanged between Fielding and a relative confirming Carney had turned up at her address covered in blood and had killed Mr Cullen.
Detectives also discovered Carney had washed his clothes at Fielding’s address on October 8, with Mr Cullen’s wallet recovered from a drain outside Fielding’s house. Officers also found further evidence of threats Fielding had made in previous months wanting Mr Cullen to be harmed.
Carney and Fielding were both charged with murder.
Carney pleaded guilty and after consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, Fielding admitted manslaughter.
She admitted telling Carney to assault Mr Cullen by asking him ‘to go round and give Ray a slap’. She said she did not intend Mr Cullen should suffer serious bodily harm.
Det Ch Insp Zoe Russo, of Lancashire Police’s Force Major Investigation Team, said: “Ray Cullen’s death was the sad and tragic result of one woman’s personal vendetta.
“It is clear, following their previous relationship, Tracey Fielding wanted her former partner to come to some harm.
“At Fielding’s instigation, David Carney, her boyfriend, launched a violent and brutal assault which resulted in Mr Cullen’s death.
“Following the attack, in a final act of humiliation, David Carney poured paint over his body. This act was to prove key to the police investigation, with footprints found at the scene later matching David Carney’s boots.
“After the attack Carney returned to Fielding’s address. Text message and phone call exchanges showed she was aware of the attack.
“The pair are dangerous and unashamed individuals. Both eventually admitted their guilt, but only following the weight of evidence presented to them. We welcome the sentences handed down at court and hope they provide some form of closure for Mr Cullen’s family.”
In a statement, Mr Cullen’s family said: “Words can’t describe how it feels to have a loved one murdered. Our father was our best friend growing up and we will never forget the memories, love and support he showed us in his life. He was extremely proud of his daughters and his grandchildren. His whole family meant everything to him and we are all completely devastated beyond words.
“I am glad justice has been served for our dad, but no time will ever be long enough, as our life sentence has only just begun and will live on with us forever.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who worked tirelessly on his case and for the support you have given to our family.
“We miss our dad every single day but can now let him rest.”