Man found guilty of murder after dragging victim under car in Surrey

Man found guilty of murder after dragging victim under car in Surrey

Victim Liam Dent. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA

Martin Eastwood, 22, used a stolen Ford S Max to kill Liam Dent after confrontation outside pub.

A driverhas been found guilty of murdering a man by hitting him with a car and dragging him for more than half a mile. Martin Eastwood, 22, used a stolen Ford S Max to kill Liam Dent in the early hours of 26 July 2019 after a confrontation outside a pub in Chessington, Surrey.

The jury heard Eastwood had convictions for two previous offences involving a car, including an incident in September 2018, when he drove a stolen vehicle at a cyclist, knocking him to the ground and causing him multiple fractures. Then in April 2019, he drove a stolen vehicle at a man, knocking him to the ground and causing him abrasions.

Dent was dragged for half a mile at speeds of up to 32mph before landing in Moor Lane, Chessington. Jurors heard the 25-year-old victim was still alive and was able to lift his head up and move his arm, but died soon after.

After a trial at the Old Bailey, Eastwood was found guilty of murder on Monday. DI Garth Hall, from Scotland Yard, said: “The actions of Martin Eastwood were callous and intentional. Liam did not stand a chance when he was struck by the car and dragged along the road to his death.

“The thoughts of my team are with Liam’s family and friends today. They have finally got the verdict they have been longing for.”

Martin Eastwood
Martin Eastwood, found guilty of murder.

Metropolitan police handout photograph of Martin Eastwood, found guilty of murder.

Detectives were able to establish which car had been used in the attack and therefore who the perpetrator was after the Ford was found incinerated later that same night. Its telematics system was recovered, and contained vital data establishing the route, speed and nature of the driving.

The prosecutor, Michelle Nelson QC, said: “That data puts beyond dispute that the burnt-out Ford was the vehicle that hit Liam Dent and dragged his body to Moor Lane and the junction with Chessington Hill Road, causing his death.

“It is also beyond dispute that when the Ford S Max struck Liam Dent, Martin Eastwood was behind the wheel.”

Earlier in the evening, Dent had been in the Lucky Rover pub in Chessington with friends. While sitting outside, pubgoers heard offensive or threatening shouts from a Volvo, driven by Daniel Morris, with Eastwood in the front passenger seat, jurors heard. The shouts prompted some of the young men outside the pub to throw objects.

Jurors heard that was the precursor for the Ford being driven at the same group, including Dent.

Later that night, Eastwood drove the Ford in convoy with a BMW, driven by Morris, shadowing it, back to Chessington to search for the group.

Having found them on Osborne Way, Eastwood “suddenly accelerated towards them, mounted the pavement, at some point it hit a metal post and struck Mr Dent”, Nelson said. “He disappeared, his body forced and trapped under the vehicle.”

An Uber driver heard Dent groaning as the Ford passed by, with the BMW close behind it beeping its horn. He followed, with his dashcam recording the body lying in the road as the two cars drove away.

Eastwood had denied intending to cause serious harm, claiming it was an accident. Morris, 22, of no fixed address, had pleaded guilty to manslaughter shortly before the trial started, it can now be reported.

Eastwood’s partner, Jasmine Robinson, 19, of Stoneleigh Crescent, Epsom, Surrey, was found guilty of assisting an offender. All three will be sentenced on 31 March.

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