The heartbroken family of Robert Beattie, who was set on fire in a brutal drug-related murder, today described his killers as "inhumane."

Three men were jailed this afternoon for the devastating attack which claimed the life of Robert Beattie.

It comes as detectives also launched a fresh appeal to find the last two other men captured in CCTV footage on the night of the attack.

The 48-year-old was squirted with petrol by a hooded gang who knocked on his door in Waverley, Skelmersdale, at around midnight, before setting him alight.

The gang-of-five had travelled from Liverpool to the West Lancashire town to try and enforce their dominance of the drugs trade, mainly heroin and crack cocaine.

Connah Jenkinson, 25, from Tuebrook, was the ringleader and was ordered to serve a minimum of 30 years behind bars for murder.

Police still want to identify this man in connection with Robert Beattie's death

His accomplices, John O'Brien, 32, from Walton, and Joseph McEwan, 19, from Fazakerley, were jailed for the lesser offence of manslaughter, along with arson.

After watching the three killers taken down to the cells at Preston Crown Court, Mr Beattie's family paid tribute to him, and said: "Our hearts are truly broken."

And they condemned the three men for their "laughing and joking" during the trial, which "showed little respect."

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In a poignant victim impact statement, read out at court, Mr Beattie's sister, speaking on behalf of the family, said: "Bobby still had a lot of life left and was taken far too soon.

"...this was brought about by the violent and selfish acts of five individuals.

"It was for financial gain, nothing else, they were prepared to use extreme measures to frighten, intimidate and murder Bobby.

Connah Jenkinson, 25, of Tuebrook, was convicted of the murder of Robert Beattie and arson with intent to endanger life in connection with a separate attack

"They could have walked away at any time, it was their decision.

"As a family, we will never come to terms with our loss."

In a further statement, the Beattie family said: "Our grieving as a family has only just started and it is even more difficult knowing that some of those responsible for this inhumane attack on bobby are still walking free.

"Bobby meant a lot to many people who knew him.

"He was an uncle, great uncle, cousin, nephew, brother in law and a friend to many, but most importantly he was our big brother.

"Having lost both of our parents and another oldest brother, he remained the oldest member of our immediate family and we still looked up to him.

Joseph McEwan, 19, of Fazakerley, was convicted of the manslaughter of Robert Beattie and arson being reckless as to whether the life of another would be endangered.
John O'Brien, 32, of Walton, was found guilty of the manslaughter of Robert Beattie and arson being reckless as to whether the life of another would be endangered.

"Bobby had been dependent on drugs for many years and for this reason he was vulnerable.

"He was not a bad person and anyone who knew him will tell you this.

"He was always kind to others; he would offer food to his friends to make sure that they did not go without.

"Whenever Bobby saw his younger nieces and nephews, he would spend time with them at the park or take them the shop for sweets.

"He loved to spend time playing and entertaining them.

"To them he was just their uncle Bobby, someone who would make them laugh and they often looked forward to seeing him.

Robert Beattie, who was set on fire at his doorstep in Skelmersdale on September 26, 2019

"His older nieces and nephews have many fond memories from their childhood, of which they will treasure forever, now are irreplaceable as new memories cannot be made.

"Our hearts are truly broken and will never be the same again because of the traumatic circumstances in which he was taken from our lives.

"Our hopes and dreams for the future together have come to a halt.

"We cannot celebrate his 50th birthday in March, instead we will be laying flowers at the cemetery.

"As a family we will miss seeing his cheeky smile and hearing his laughter.

"We will miss seeing him interact with the younger family members and his unplanned visits.

"We will miss the opportunity to make new memories. We will deeply miss our Bobby.

"No sentence imposed can ever reflect the heart ache and pain these individuals have inflicted upon our family.

"We can only hope that he is now with our mum and dad, catching up with his favourite people and keeping an eye on those left behind."

Police still want to identify this man in connection with Robert Beattie's death

Mr Beattie was set alight as he answered a knock at the door of his home on Waverley, Skelmersdale, at 12.30am on September 26, 2019.

He suffered terrible burns and bravely fought to stay alive for the next two weeks, while sedated, but tragically lost his battle for life.

Jenkinson and his recruits drove in a van from Liverpool to Skelmersdale after believing their "Ronnie and Reggie" mobile telephone line, used to peddle Class A drugs to addicts, was being usurped by a rival telephone line, nicknamed "Nathan."

Your GP is a good place to start. They can discuss your problems with you and get you into treatment.

They may offer you treatment at the practice or refer you to your local drug service.

If you're not comfortable talking to your GP, you can approach your local drug treatment service yourself.

Visit the Frank website to find local drug treatment services.

If you're having trouble finding the right sort of help, call the Frank drugs helpline on 0300 123 6600. They can talk you through all your options.

The gang thought Mr Beattie was part of the competing dealing group and paid a visit to the town to "deter disloyalty," prosecutors said.

Hours before targeting the 48-year-old, they gang also firebombed a separate home on Willow Hey, where they perceived rivals to live, but the occupants managed to escape

After Jenkinson, O'Brien and McEwan were sentenced, detectives immediately launched a new appeal to find the last two from the gang who were part of the murder.

Newly-seen CCTV shows the gang-of-five walking briskly down a street called Windrows, in Skelmersdale, at 1am, 30 minutes after setting Mr Beattie on fire, on their way back to Liverpool.

They all have their hoods up, or faces covered, and two of them are riding bikes.

Two of those five are yet to be identified and police believe they played a significant part in the killing and want to trace them.

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Police are confident they come from the Merseyside area.

Now at large for 16 months, police today asked the public: "Do you know who they are?"

Sentencing Jenkinson, O'Brien and McEwan, Judge Justice Turner told them: "You all turned up outside the house of Robert Beattie in another part of Skelmersdale once more equipped with petrol.

"You, Jenkinson, intended not merely to frighten him but to cause him, at the very least, really serious injury.

"You all entered the property as a team members of which squirted him and his home with petrol.

"You were there when the petrol was set alight.

If you have been affected by any of the details mentioned in this story there are people who can help you.

Most people grieve when they lose something or someone important to them.

The way grief affects you depends on lots of things, including what kind of loss you have suffered, your upbringing, your beliefs or religion, your age, your relationships, and your physical and mental health.

Grieving is a totally normal process but there are way to get help if you need support.

Your GP is a good place to start. They can give you advice about other support services, refer you to a counsellor, or prescribe medication if needed.

Or you can contact support organisations directly, such as Cruse Bereavement Care (0808 808 1677) Samaritans (116 123) or Love Jasmine.

"You, O’Brien and McEwan, I am sure, also knew that the petrol would be ignited as it had been earlier that night.

"You, however, lacked the intention that Mr Beattie should die or suffer serious injury.

"I am satisfied that your intention was that he should, at least, be terrified and put in fear of his life as a lesson and warning to others.

"Mr Beattie was a gentle man whose life had already been blighted by drugs of the kind which you three had been supplying him.

"I have had the benefit of hearing the evidence of his sister, Rosa Aydin, who paints the picture of a kind and thoughtful man who will be desperately missed by his relatives and friends.

"No one in court could have failed to have been moved by her eloquence.

"The suffering which Mr Beattie endured must have been excruciating.

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"It is impossible to imagine the physical and mental pain which he endured in the aftermath of this vicious and cowardly attack.

"He managed to hold on to life for a full two weeks before death brought him release."