Two men beat friend to death with hammer before chopping head off and dumping dismembered body in suitcases

Ashley Walsh's head was removed and his body dismembered after an argument with friends Gerard McGlacken and Aaron Evitt turned violent

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Two men have been jailed for a minimum of 28 years for the murder of their friend whose body was found chopped up in four suitcases.

The grim discovery of father-of-one Ashley Walsh, 34, was made in bushes close to a school at Sandhills Park in Collyhurst, Manchester, more than a week after he was last seen.

Talented motocross rider Mr Walsh had been drinking and taking drugs with Aaron Evitt, 34, and Gerard McGlacken, 45, on the night of January 7 when an argument with Evitt and the victim turned violent.

Evitt picked up a claw hammer and repeatedly struck Mr Walsh to the head and face with heavy force at McGlacken’s flat in Collyhurst, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Gerard McGlacken (left) and Aaron Evitt
Gerard McGlacken (left) and Aaron Evitt

McGlacken then joined in the attack as Mr Walsh also suffered deep stab wounds to the chest from a knife.

Later, Mr Walsh’s head was removed and his body dismembered before the parts were put into plastic bags. They were transferred into suitcases, which Evitt took by pedal cycle to the park on a number of trips.

A clean-up of the flat in Kintore Walk followed as Mr Walsh was later reported missing by his family.

McGlacken and Evitt were arrested when suspicions were raised after they had been spotted with Mr Walsh’s dog Duke.

Evitt later told police: “It’s gone on too long. You’re going to need a van. I need to show you where he is.”

Both men went on to plead guilty to preventing a lawful and decent burial but denied murder.

Jurors rejected claims by Evitt that he acted in self-defence when the row broke out after he said Mr Walsh told him he had slept with his ex-girlfriend.

McGlacken admitted decapitating and dismembering the body of Mr Walsh, from Failsworth, Oldham, but argued he thought he was already dead when he attacked him.

Handing out life terms on Friday for the “callous and brutal killing”, Mr Justice Goose told the pair: “You acted together to overpower and murder the deceased. You acted together to dispose of his body and of the evidence of what had happened.

“The circumstances of this have been horrific for the family to listen to.”

Ashley Walsh
Ashley Walsh

Reading out a victim personal statement from the witness box, Mr Walsh’s cousin Helen Walsh said: “It was difficult to hear the words in court, hearing how they treated Ashley, how they used words like ‘chopped him up’.

“We feel there has been no remorse shown whatsoever.

“We will always remember Ashley as a fun, smiling, chilled, kind-hearted man and his loss means our family will never be the same again.”

His girlfriend Claire Williams added: “The only flaw he had was to choose the wrong friends.”

McGlacken and Evitt, of Brentnor Road, Moston, also received concurrent three-year jail terms for preventing a lawful burial.

Both had numerous previous convictions dating back to when they were juveniles and were each on prison licence at the time of the murder.

Following sentencing, Detective Inspector Daniel Lee of Greater Manchester Police said: “It was a heinous act of violence and not only did Aaron Evitt and Gerard McGlacken take Ashley’s life, but they also attempted to conceal what they had done – causing extreme distress and upset to Ashley’s family and friends.”