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Man who kept body in freezer for two years is jailed for fraud and preventing a lawful burial

A man who kept a body in a freezer for over two years in a Birmingham flat has been jailed for fraud and preventing a lawful burial.

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Damion Johnson

Damion Johnson pleaded guilty at Derby Crown Court to preventing the lawful and decent burial of a dead body at a previous hearing in May 2023.

He initially pleaded not guilty to three counts of fraud but changed his plea in August and has now been sentenced to two years in jail for preventing a lawful burial and received six months for each of the three counts of fraud, which will run concurrently.

The 51-year-old had lived with John Wainwright, who he claimed was a father figure, for a number of years at a flat in Holloway Head, Birmingham.

But when the 71-year-old died, Johnson bought a freezer online to conceal his body and stole money from his account over a number of years.

The body of Mr Wainwright was discovered inside the freezer by workmen at a skip yard in Warwickshire in August 2020, after Johnson was evicted from the flat which was cleared by contractors.

Officers investigating the death discovered that Johnson had bought the freezer online around the time it’s believed Mr Wainwright had died in September 2018.

The freezer was delivered on 28 September and he used it to store the body of Mr Wainwright. When Johnson was evicted in December 2019 he left the freezer containing Mr Wainwright’s body inside the flat.

The investigating officers also discovered that from September 2018 until August 2020 Johnson had been using Mr Wainwright’s bank card and bank account to fund his lifestyle.

It isestimated that over £20,000 was stolen over two years which included a carer’s allowance that Johnson continued to claim.

When relatives of Mr Wainwright asked Johnson where their loved one was, he told them he had died and that the funeral had already taken place.

He also covered his tracks with medical professionals who were treating Mr Wainwright for a long term medical condition, telling them that he had moved to a different area and that he had no forwarding address for him.

A post mortem revealed that Wainwright had injuries to his head, which Johnson claimed were sustained from a fall when he was out shopping, weeks before his death.

In interview, Johnson told officers that Wainwright had died of what he believed were natural causes and in his panic after finding his body he decided to conceal his death.

He said he’d known himt for over 27 years and that he was a father figure to him.

But when he was asked about why he had kept claiming benefits as his carer and used his bank card to steal funds, he didn’t have an answer.

Inspector Ranj Sangha, who investigated the death, said: “Mr Wainwright was denied the dignity of a lawful burial and the circumstances of his death required investigation.

“Johnson has admitted placing him into a freezer after his death but denied causing him any harm or being responsible for his death.

“He was also being paid an allowance to be a carer for Mr Wainwright yet he had not sought medical treatment for him at any point in the months leading up to his death.

“The investigation shows the freezer was ordered at the time of or shortly after his death and Johnson had kept it at his home address showing complete disregard for his friend and although he has stated he was overcome with grief, Mr Wainwright was left in the flat for a number of years and his body was only discovered when the freezer was cleared to a skip yard.

“Johnson said he was suffering from hallucinations at the time of his friend’s death yet the ordering of the freezer and it’s delivery days later would show a degree of planning by Johnson.

“He then concocted a web of lies about Mr Wainwright’s death which has been consistently told to friends and family for his own benefit of receiving money that he wasn’t entitled to and a place to reside.

“The discovery of the body after a period of two years was in tragic circumstances and has affected all those involved. But Johnson has not once shown any remorse throughout the investigation for the way in which Mr Wainwright was treated.”

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