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Fugitive fled to Spain days after dad's slaying.

Byline: NEIL DOCKING ECHO Reporter neil.docking@trinitymirror.com @LIVECHOCOURT

THIS is fugitive Lee Knox, who police want to question over the horrific murder of Joseph McKeever.

Yesterday, his killers Jamie Grimes, Karl Kelly and Darren Colecozy were jailed for a total of 77 years at Liverpool Crown Court.

Murderer Grimes, who attacked the victim over PS130,000 of missing cannabis, was jailed for life with a minimum of 27 years.

But the court heard his "business partner" and "international drugs importer" Lee Knox remains at large, after fleeing to Spain with him last June.

Mr McKeever's ordeal began at Grimes' workplace, at MGM Garage, in Kensington, and ended at Darren Colecozy's Wavertree flat.

Knox was captured on CCTV at the Brecon Street yard and is also said to have been present when Mr McKeever died at the home.

Merseyside Police yesterday said it was appealing for the public's help in tracing the 40-year-old fugitive.

The force said detectives believe Knox "may have information which could assist with their ongoing enquiries".

Knox, from Liverpool, is described as white, 5ft 6in tall, of medium build, with fair hair and blue eyes. Detective Chief Inspector John Middleton said: "I'd urge anyone who has seen Lee Knox, or knows of his whereabouts, to contact Merseyside Police as a matter of urgency.

"We believe Knox may have vital information which could assist with an ongoing investigation."

Firefighters discovered Mr Mc-Keever's body inside the blazing car, on wasteland off St Domingo Road, at 11.10pm on June 15.

Grimes said he and Knox agreed with Mr McKeever that he would import 50kg of cannabis in a lorry from Spain for PS25,000.

But he told the jury the cargo failed to arrive on June 12, which led to hours of talks at the Royal Oak pub, in Walton, on June 13.

However, the court heard the lorry, containing 145kg of cannabis, was seized by customs officers in Newhaven, East Sussex, on June 11.

Mr Justice William Davis yesterday said Mr McKeever was attacked because Grimes and Knox believed he had taken their cannabis.

The High Court judge said the pair "lured" him to the Kensington garage, where they were joined by a third man, named in court as Anthony Wales.

The victim was last seen on CCTV walking towards Grimes' green metal shipping container at the yard at 5.57pm on June 14.

Justice Davis said Mr McKeever could not give them any information about the load, apart from the truth that it had been seized.

The judge said: "Grimes, Knox and Wales quickly moved from threats to actual violence."

He said the victim's "severe beating" included having both of his kneecaps fractured with a weapon and a fatal head injury.

Justice Davis said he eventually told them they could find drugs at an industrial unit in Burscough, linked to him and Doyle.

Drug dealer Karl Kelly went to the garage and led Grimes' Citroen Nemo van containing the prisoner to Colecozy's home. The court heard Knox, Grimes and Wales went to look for the drugs and left Mr Mc-Keever with the pair in Picton Crescent.

The judge said: "Knox and Wales had lost patience with Mr McKeever. They had gone to Burscough and achieved nothing."

At 2.37pm, Colecozy sent his girlfriend a WhatsApp message saying "It's like a f***ing Power episode" - a US crime drama on Netflix.

Justice Davis said: "This is a series depicting life of New York drug dealers. It involves violence and torture. "The messages reflected what was happening to McKeever at the hands of Knox and Wales."

He said Mr McKeever was stamped on by Knox and/or Wales and they were encouraged by Kelly and Colecozy.

The judge added: "That attack caused further catastrophic brain injury which was a cause of Mr Mc-Keever's death."

He said the victim was further strangled when Grimes returned at 6am "whether at his hand or at the hand of Knox or Wales".

Grimes went back to the container, cleaned up blood using oil and tried to delete the CCTV footage from the garage.

The court heard he fled to Spain with Knox, after asking his friend Dylan Owen to destroy his van and Mr McKeever's Renault Megane car.

Grimes told the trial he last saw Knox around a week later, when he said he was leaving for Malaga to see some friends.

| Anyone with information about Knox is asked to contact Merseyside Police social media desk via twitter @MerPolCC or Facebook Merseyside Police CC.

You can also call 101 or contact Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.

CAPTION(S):

Murder victim Joseph McKeever

Lee Knox - still being sought by police
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUSP
Date:Feb 16, 2018
Words:778
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