Murderer who tried to dismember victim’s body jailed for life

David Swaby
David Swaby

David Swaby was given a minimum term of 21 years after Birmingham Crown Court was told he inflicted more than 50 sharp force injuries and 40 blunt force injuries on Hassan Ghafar

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A murderer who brutally attacked his victim with three knives, a rolling pin and a dumbbell and then attempted to dismember his body in a bath has been jailed for life.

David Swaby was given a minimum term of 21 years after Birmingham Crown Court was told he inflicted more than 50 sharp force injuries and 40 blunt force injuries on Hassan Ghafar during the early hours of February 7 this year.

Mr Ghafar, 22, suffered significant knife wounds to the head and neck, and one of his arms was severed after he was attacked in a number of rooms at Swaby’s home in Holly Road, Handsworth, Birmingham.

Swaby protested his innocence by video-link from HMP Birmingham to the city’s Crown Court on Thursday.

Passing sentence on the 34-year-old, who was convicted of murder by a jury last month, Judge Paul Farrer QC said: “Other than your account of events, which has at least in part been rejected by the jury, there is no direct evidence as to what precipitated this offence.

“It is clear that you and Hassan Ghafar knew one another in the context of either buying or selling cannabis.”

The court heard Swaby, who has previous convictions for possession of a knife and a robbery involving use of a machete, admitted he had made his victim “beg” before killing him.

Telling Swaby the killing had been brutal, the judge added: “You suffered no identifiable injuries whatsoever.

“The injuries sustained by Hassan Ghafar, together with the blood staining in the house, demonstrate that you launched a sustained and ferocious attack upon him.

“It commenced in your bedroom and appears to have involved you striking him repeatedly with various weapons which were to hand, including a rolling pin, a dumbbell and a piece of plastic railing.

“Mr Ghafar managed to retreat into the toilet and sought to close the door. I conclude that your actions demonstrate a clear intent to kill.

“Having killed Mr Ghafar you set about trying to cover your tracks. You dragged his body into the bathroom.

“Having done so, you used an implement or implements in an attempt to dismember the body, presumably with a view to disposing of it in due course.

“You successfully severed the left arm at the elbow and tried to cut through the left leg, but then appear to have given up the attempt, no doubt because of the difficulty involved.”

The court was told that when police arrived at about 9am the following day, Swaby fled out of a rear window and sought to escape down a nearby railway line.

Judge Farrer described Swaby as “a dangerous individual” prone to massive overreaction if confronted, telling him: “Your admission of making Mr Ghafar beg amounts to physical and mental suffering inflicted prior to death.

“Balancing the aggravating and mitigating features to which I have referred, the appropriate minimum term is one of 21 years.”