Builders jailed for tycoon's murder

Three builders have been jailed for life with a recommendation that they serve at least 30 years for murdering a multimillionaire, police said.

William John Saunderson-Smith, 58, was beaten to death in a vain attempt to get him to reveal where he kept his cash, the Old Bailey had heard.

The victim, known as John, was found in the attic bedroom of a house he was renovating in Dewhurst Road, West Kensington, London, in October.

The court heard he was bludgeoned to death by three Polish builders who later fled the country.

One later told police they took £2,000 but officers found they missed £225,000 hidden in and around the bedroom, and £100,000 at another property in Fulham.

Slawomir Bugajewski, 39, and Dawid Rymar, 24, both of Acton, west London, and Ireneusz Mydlarz, 33, of Edgware, north London, were convicted of murder, Scotland Yard said. The court heard that Mr Saunderson-Smith, though reclusive and scruffy in appearance, was a wealthy property developer who owned various addresses in the west London area.

Aftab Jafferjee QC, prosecuting, said: "Mr Saunderson-Smith owned numerous properties, both here and abroad, and was a multimillionaire. He had plainly retired to bed. He was obviously taken by surprise, the range and extent of his injuries being far beyond anything required merely to subdue him, which suggests a beating to get him to reveal where his money was before he was finally finished off."

The prosecutor said Mr Saunderson-Smith was in the habit of storing vast quantities of cash at his home, the bulk of which was in the ceiling above his loft bedroom.

He said the developer preferred to use Polish builders because they were cheaper and he could pay them in cash from a bag of around £1,000 on Fridays. The defendants had worked for Mr Saunderson-Smith in the past but were not working for him at the time of the killing, the court heard.

Rymar and Bugajewski went to Victoria coach station in the middle of the night and left for Poland via Paris where they posed for pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower, the court heard. Mydlarz flew to Poland from Luton Airport after going on a spending spree, said counsel. The three Poles were arrested after returning to the UK.