Thomas Campbell was brutally ‘tortured to death’ in his own home. His father was tied up, stabbed, beaten and poured with hot water during the two-hour ordeal.
It goes without saying that no one deserves such a death, despite their criminal past. Reece Steven, one of the three gunmen who ambushed Thomas at his home, will serve at least 37 years for the murder.
At the time of his death, the 38-year-old had recently settled in a posh new-build property in Mossley. He had started a relationship with the ex-partner of John Belfield, an alleged drug dealer who is said to be out for revenge, the Manchester Evening News reports.
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Thomas’ ex-wife of 10 years, Coleen Campbell, conspired with Belfield as the couple sought revenge against their former partners. Belfield is wanted on suspicion of murder.
Earlier this week, Coleen Campbell was jailed for 13 years for manslaughter for her part in the plot against her ex-husband. Belfield is alleged to have been the second attacker and the third is unknown to police.
Campbell was a convicted drug dealer who was still of interest to police at the time of his death, it was heard in his murder trial. The jury was told: “At the time of his death, there were pending criminal investigations into Thomas Campbell, including on suspicion of assault and drug offences.”
His criminal past stretched back more than two decades. When he was just 19 years old in 2002, Campbell was sentenced to nine years in prison after playing his part in a terrifying robbery conspiracy, which involved the use of weapons, including a samurai sword.
It was after he was released from his sentence in 2008 that he met Coleen Campbell. The couple married in 2011 and had two children in 2010 and 2015. However, his fatherhood did not deter him from getting involved in criminal activity.
He was convicted of possession with intent to supply cannabis in 2010. Police intelligence records alleged that Campbell was involved in cannabis and cocaine trafficking for more than a decade, between 2010 and 2021.
Intelligence also claims that he played an ‘integral’ role in an organized crime gang involved in cocaine trafficking from 2013 to 2021. In 2019, his then-wife joined him in the dock.
The couple was jointly charged with money laundering after enjoying a high society lifestyle, expensive cars and home improvements financed with dirty money. The couple splurged £10,000 on a holiday, did a two-storey extension to add a bar and larger kitchen to their east Manchester home and spent a fortune on designer clothes and jewellery.
A judge ruled that they had profited from the crime to the tune of £100,000 over a period of five years. A Proceeds of Crime investigation, seeking to recover the couple’s ill-gotten gains, has yet to be finalized in court.
With Thomas dead, the £100,000 bill is left to his widow. The case will be heard again in the coming months.
Further intelligence suggested that Campbell had access to phones on the EncroChat communications network. Until it was hacked by European law enforcement, the system was thought to be impenetrable and provided criminals with a secure line of communication to carry out their clandestine activities.
Thomas moved to Marbella in Spain and then to Dubai in previous years, fearing the EncroChat hack would land him in court, his ex-wife has claimed. Police also said Campbell was “tactically aware” of the police surveillance being conducted on him.
During the investigation that led to the money laundering charges, he was able to ‘compromise a mobile surveillance team’ that had followed him. In 2018, he showed up at a police station with a tracking device he found attached to his vehicle and asked officers if it belonged to them.
In addition to high-tech methods, Campbell was thought to employ old-school tactics to avoid detection. The police believed that she buried the drugs underground to keep them away from her home.
In their defense cases, rejected by the jury, two men later convicted of participating in her murder claimed that they had been trying to find this “buried treasure”, with no intention of harming Campbell.
When three men ambushed him on July 2 of last year, Thomas Campbell was beginning a new chapter in his life with a new relationship and a new home. Whether he would have continued in his criminal ways will never be known.
After a trial, Coleen Campbell, 38, of Bamford Street, Clayton, was found guilty of manslaughter. Cleworth, 38, of Charles Street, Heywood, was also found guilty of manslaughter, while Steven, 29, of Poplar Street, Middleton, was found guilty of murder.
Coleen Campbell was sentenced to 13 years in prison. Stephen Cleworth received a life sentence, to serve a minimum of 12 years. Reece Steven was sentenced to life in prison, to serve a minimum of 37 years.