Artist Paul May found murdered under pile of clothes at Essex flat after hammer attack, court hears

Paul May, 46, was found at the flat on London Road, Westcliff, in February this year. Credit: Essex Police

The body of an artist bludgeoned to death with a hammer was found hidden under a pile of clothes by his alleged killer's landlord, a court heard.

Paul May was discovered at a flat in Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex in February when the owner of the house turned up to change the locks.

The London Road flat had been rented to Abir Miah, 45, who is accused of murdering Mr May with a hammer, before fleeing to his mother's house in London to hide the bloodstained weapon and clothing.

He denies the charge.

On the first day of the trial at Basildon Crown Court, jurors heard how the landlord had arrived at the flat with his handyman after Miah had moved out.

They discovered a pile of clothes in the bedroom and when the clothes were picked up, Mr May's hand could be seen underneath.

He had suffered serious head injuries and was declared dead at the scene.

Christine Agnew KC, prosecuting, told a jury of five women and seven men that Miah and his family had moved into the flat in November 2020.However, in January 2022 his family moved out, leaving him living there alone.

Ms Agnew said that Miah's landlord had trouble getting his rent payments on time and had arrived at the flat on 13 February with a handyman to change the locks.

CCTV footage showed Miah going in and out of the flat the previous night, before travelling to his family's home in east London.

Police arrested him there two days later, where officers found bags of clothing which matched what he had been wearing in Westcliff, as well as a hammer.

Forensic examinations showed the blood on the hammer to be Mr May's.

Ms Agnew told the court that the account Miah gave to police about the hammer and clothes was "garbled, confusing and for the most part, untrue".

Following his death, Mr May's family paid tribute to him, calling him "larger than life".

They said he was a keen lover of art, and had been commissioned by rail company C2C in 2013 to do artwork for the boards outside Southend East railway station. 

“He was really proud of that and knowing that his work brightens up people’s day as they head to work is a comfort to us," said his family.

They added: "Paul was a son, a brother, and a father, and his loss really hurts.

"We are so very sad and his death feels so incredibly unfair - he was a larger-than-life character, the life and soul of the party."The trial continues.

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