A violent offender and a criminologist have been jailed for killing a drug dealer who was battered to death for his Rolex watch.
Fitness fan Paul Tong, 54, is thought to have been attacked with a barbell exercise weight in Ealing, west London, in April 2017.
His body, found the day after the attack, was partially covered with bedding and jurors at the Old Bailey were told it was left in a “contorted and unnatural angle”, with his room bare except for an empty Rolex box.
Christopher McDonald, who has a first-class degree in psychology, was found guilty of murdering Tong and conspiracy to rob after a retrial and was jailed for life with a minimum term of 32 years.
Aliysa Ellis, who has a criminology master’s degree, was sentenced to 13 years in jail for manslaughter and conspiracy to rob but has been cleared of murder.
The court was told how father-of-one Tong, known as Yankee, would leave money and drugs lying around in his room and there were rumours he was well-off.
He was described as being seen with a “flash watch” and a former partner told police he kept watches including a Rolex, designer clothes and jewellery at the home he shared with his elderly aunt.
An empty Rolex box with Ellis’s fingerprint was found, the court was told.
Prosecutor Jake Hallam QC said in during the trial: “The state of the room suggests that Mr Tong was killed by people who were seeking to find and take his money, his drugs and his valuables.
“He was known to have various expensive-looking watches, for example.
“When the police searched the room after his death, neither money, nor valuables, nor drugs were found.”
A postmortem concluded Tong, described as being of a “muscular build”, had suffered cuts and bruises to his head and body, his ribs had been broken and his liver ruptured from “blunt impacts”.
An exercise bar found in the property could have been used in the attack, the court was told.
Both McDonald and Ellis had denied being involved.
McDonald, 35, of Croydon, who was on life licence after previously being jailed for life for a minimum of six years, said he had never been to Tong’s house.
McDonald had admitted an attack on a man involving a bar, Taser and knife in November 2007 and was sentenced the following year.
He also conspired to steal £15,000 from a safe at a Matalan shop in Luton in 2007 and was released on licence in 2014.
Ellis, 31, from Ealing, said she visited Tong to buy drugs and said McDonald would also go for the same reason.
Detective sergeant Lee Tullett, of Scotland Yard, said: “Ellis knew that Paul Tong dealt drugs and kept cash and other valuables in his bedroom, and she conspired with McDonald to rob him.
“Paul was subjected to a violent attack and the pair then callously left him fatally injured in his bedroom before his body was found the next day.
“I hope today’s result can now start to bring some closure to Paul’s family so they can move forward.”