Four men jailed for total of 86 years for murder of Bill Henham at Brighton New Year's Eve party

  • ITV News Meridian's Andy Dickenson reports on the "senseless and horrific" killing

Four men have been jailed for a total of 86 years for murdering a student at a New Year's Eve party in Brighton.

Bill Henham, 24, from Henfield, was beaten to death and then thrown off the balcony of a disused building in North Street in January 2020.

Bill had been kicked, stamped on and hit with a wooden bannister.

A post-mortem examination revealed he suffered more than 60 injuries, including a brain haemorrhage, eleven rib fractures, extensive cuts and bruising to the scalp, face, and neck.

Detectives trawled through hours of CCTV to identify witnesses and those who had attended the New Year’s Eve party at the building, which was being used as a squat.

The exterior of the disused building in Brighton where the party was held. Credit: Sussex Police

Officers established that Bill, who studied at Ravensbourne University in London, had spent Christmas with his family in Henfield but wanted to see in the New Year in a "lively" atmosphere in Brighton.

Bill’s father gave him a lift into Brighton, dropping him off close to the city centre on the evening of December 31.

CCTV revealed Bill left a nightclub on the seafront, before the final sighting of him at 4.30am on New Year's Day in a convenience store in North Street, near the squat where the New Year's Eve party was held.

Police believe that Bill was killed within a few hours of going to the party.

  • CCTV shows some of Bill's final moments before the "savage" attack

Forensic evidence showed the attack had started on the second floor of the building before Bill was dragged or pulled to a small room on the first floor.

He was then dropped over railings at the edge of a flat roof terrace, into a recessed courtyard some 11ft below.

Bill had been stripped of his clothing and it was apparent that disinfectant had been used to wash his body and other areas of diluted bloodstaining in the building which indicated to police that attempts had been made to clear up following the brutal assault.

Police arrested four men and a 16-year-old boy in connection with Bill's death, acting on information received from witnesses at the party.

Three of the suspects are seen partying on the balcony of the building. Credit: Sussex Police

One of those arrested, Gregory Hawley, described as 'in charge of the squat', was said to have laughed and joked about the attack and allegedly confessed to stripping Bill's body and dousing him in bleach before throwing him out of a window.

Hawley was also seen a few hours later with a bleach bottle and cloth just a few feet from the same room where Bill was assaulted and others involved were alleged to continue boasting about it once they had moved to a second squat nearby.

Another of the arrested men, Dushane Meikle, was later found to have two deleted photos of Bill's body, one partially clothed and one naked, on his mobile phone.

A witness also picked out three of the suspects; Hawley, Lamech Gordon-Carew and Meikle, in police identity procedures.

Two of the convicted defendants Alize Spence and Duschane Meikle. Credit: Sussex Police

The suspects were all were released under investigation in order for detectives to continue their complex investigation.

Following 16 months of painstaking investigative and forensic work, in May and June 2021 three of the four arrested men, and the arrested boy (now aged 18), were charged with Bill’s murder.

The remaining arrested man was released without further action.

The four defendants were found guilty of the murder of Bill Henham by a jury following a 10 week trial at Maidstone Crown Court.

Dushane Meikle, 28, Gregory Hawley, 29, Lamech Gordon-Carew, 20, and Alize Spence, 18, were convicted on February 24. All four men had denied murdering Bill.

At Hove Crown Court on Friday, May 20, all four were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Hawley and Meikle are to serve a minimum of 25 years and Gordon-Carew and Spence are to serve a minimum of 18 years in prison.

The other two convicted defendants Gregory Hawley and Lamech Gordon-Carew. Credit: Sussex Police

Prosecutor James Mulholland QC had told the court that although the motive for Bill's murder had been "unclear", all four men had either participated in the physical attack upon Bill or deliberately helped or encouraged one or more of the others to do so in the early hours of New Year's Day, 2020.

Upon sentencing, Alex Geldart from Sussex Police, said: "It's senseless and horrific, it's an absolute tragedy.

"Bill's death served no purpose, he was a kind and gentle young man with so much promise. There are no words how appalling this crime is."

Detective Superintendent Alex Geldart, at the time of conviction, said: "I, and the whole investigation team, feel privileged to have brought justice for Bill and his family, whose strength, dignity and fortitude throughout the investigation and trial has been truly humbling.

"Bill was just enjoying celebrating the New Year when his life was brutally brought to an end.

Bill suffered more than 60 injuries in the attack. Credit: Sussex Police/family handout

"Since his tragic murder, we have never given up hope that we would finally hold those responsible to account.

"This has been a lengthy and complex investigation involving a huge number of enquiries and forensic work to bring this case to court, resulting in the convictions today for this senseless killing.

"The four convicted men will now face many years in prison and we hope Bill's family will be able to find some closure, knowing that his killers are finally behind bars."