'Jigsaw man' killer jailed for life

A man who murdered and chopped up his friend before scattering his body parts across two counties has been jailed for life.

Stephen Marshall, 38, was branded "pure evil" as he was told he would serve a minimum of 36 years in prison.

His girlfriend Sarah Bush, 21, was jailed for three years and nine months for perverting the course of justice.

The severed remains of Mr Howe, 49, from Southgate, north London, were discovered across Hertfordshire and Leicestershire last year. He became known as the "jigsaw man" after the series of macabre finds.

After the sentencing at St Albans Crown Court, Detective Superintendent Michael Hanlon of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit said: "The act of dismembering Jeffrey Howe can only be described as pure evil."

Bush, of no fixed address, was acquitted of murdering Mr Howe but pleaded guilty to helping to dispose of his body parts and giving false information about his whereabouts when police were investigating his disappearance. She was sentenced to three years and nine months imprisonment for the first offence and to two years and three months for the second one, with the two terms to run concurrently.

During the three-week trial, the court heard Marshall, of Ayot Path, Borehamwood, Herts, had connections with the criminal underworld and had boasted of his skill at butchering corpses. One witness told of his links to a criminal family in London known as the Adams family, for whom Marshall claimed to have chopped up bodies.

Passing sentence, the judge, Mr Justice Cooke, told Marshall: "(Mr Howe) looked up to you and was scared of you and the evidence is you exploited that." He described him as a man with a record of violence and past association with hardened criminals who could be affable one moment and domineering the next.

Mr Howe had let the couple live at his flat when they needed a place to stay and it was during this time, on March 8 or 9 last year, that Marshall stabbed him in the back. The pair then took over his property, began helping themselves to money from his bank account and sold his belongings.

Mr Howe's family said no prison term was long enough for what Marshall and Bush had done. They described Mr Howe as "a jovial, charming character who had a heart of gold".