Two men who beat another to death in a fall-out over a cannabis crop have been gaoled for life.

Sam Childe (21) of Maythorne Close, Balderton, must serve a minimum of 19 years before being considered for parole.

Lee Sharp (22) of Lincoln Road, Newark, must serve a minimum of 16 years.

Childe was convicted on August 8 of the murder of Mr Chris Johnson (26). Sharp admitted the offence before Childe’s trial.

Judge Michael Stokes, at Nottingham Crown Court on Monday, said he accepted Childe was the leader of the two men, but Sharp was prepared to go along with the attack.

The judge said although they did not intend to kill Mr Johnson they were prepared to use violence against him with the intention of causing him serious injury.

Childe and Mr Johnson were childhood friends.

They had been growing a cannabis crop, estimated to have been worth about £4,000, in the spare bedroom of Mr Johnson’s home on Station Road, Collingham.

On February 4 Childe decided to steal the plants and recruited Sharp to go with him.

Childe was armed with a knuckle-duster and Sharp hid an iron weightlifting bar up his sleeve.

They used cable ties and duct tape to bind and gag Mr Johnson.

Judge Stokes said Childe became greedy and wanted to keep all the profits of the crop to himself rather than share it. He said that was the motivation behind the attack.

Mr Johnson suffered serious head injuries and bleeding to the brain.

He never regained consciousness and died in hospital two days later.

Childe was arrested on the evening of the attack and Sharp the next day.

Mr Johnson was the only son of Mr and Mrs Alan Johnson and a brother to three sisters, Mrs Kelly Wilson, Miss Jodie Johnson (22) and Miss Lorah Johnson (18).

His partner of eight years, Miss Nicola Shaw (24) gave birth to their daughter, Skye, in June.

Miss Shaw and several members of Mr Johnson’s family were present at the sentencing and throughout Childe’s trial.

In a statement read in court, Miss Shaw said: “I feel like I’ve lost half my body losing Christopher.

“We used to do everything together and we had no secrets. If it wasn’t for Skye I feel I wouldn’t have a purpose in life.”

In another court statement, Mr Johnson’s mother, Mrs Dawn Johnson, said: “We are an extremely close family.

“Christopher was much loved. He was looking forward to becoming a father.

“Seeing Christopher laying there unconscious with so many wounds and covered in bruises will be an image that will remain with me forever.”

She said they had all suffered some sort of mental health problems, including post traumatic stress, and were having counselling.

Speaking outside court, Mrs Johnson said they were happy with the sentences and pleased it was over.

Three other people previously admitted assisting an offender.

Childe’s mother, Tina Childe (45) of Philip Road, Newark, was gaoled for nine months and her partner, Andrew Stevenson (50) of Philip Road, Newark, received 36 weeks in gaol suspended for a year and was ordered to complete 150 hours’ unpaid work.

Sam Childe’s cousin, Kirsty Stevenson (23) of Mount Road, Balderton, who is no relation to Andrew Stevenson, was given a 12-month community order with a supervision requirement.

Tina Childe tried to hide the cannabis in her loft and disposed of the defendants’ clothes.

Sam Childe kissed his mother as his sentence was read out and before he was led away.

In a court statement, Tina Childe said: “I didn’t want to admit what Sam had done. I think he was capable of it but I didn’t want to admit it.”

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