Teenagers found guilty of ‘disturbing’ murder of vulnerable man after cuckooing his flat

The Independent
The Independent

Two teenage boys have been found guilty of murdering a vulnerable man in his flat last summer.

Leigh Smith, 48, was stabbed to death by 18-year-old Jacob Cookson and a 17-year-old boy who cannot be named for legal reasons.

They pleaded not guilty to the murder charges before a month-long trial at Minshull Street Crown Court where another 17-year-old boy charged in connection to the murder was found not guilty.

In the trial which ended yesterday, the court heard how Leigh who was deemed vulnerable and was therefore moved into an assisted living flat in Eccles where he became a victim of “cuckooing” by a group of organised crime members from the Salford area.

Cuckooing is a term used for a practice where criminals take over someone’s home, usually a vulnerable person and use the property as a base for drug dealing and other criminal activity. Cuckooing is central to many county lines operations across the country.

Leigh’s mother Jackie said: “Although it will not bring Leigh back and he is greatly missed, we as a family are pleased that we have now got justice for Leigh.”

On the evening of 21 June 2021, Leigh was stabbed with a knife seven times in the leg by Cookson and the other defendant before they both fled leaving Leigh to bleed to death in his living room.

Leigh was not found until the following day, when a concerned neighbour went round to the flat to check on him and found his body, alerting police to the scene.

Detectives on the case had found that Cookson and the defendant were pursuing a revenge attack against Leigh when they killed him.

In the early hours of 16 June, only days before the stabbing, Cookson with another male and his girlfriend were sat with Leigh in his flat when Cookson was violently assaulted by the man. Cookson believed that Leigh had set him up to be assaulted and stabbed him to death days later.

Detective chief inspector Ben Cottam, of Greater Manchester Police’s Major Investigation Team, said: “This was a shocking and disturbing murder of a vulnerable man by two teenagers who have shown little remorse for their actions. Our thoughts are very much with Leigh’s loved ones today and I hope this guilty verdict brings some comfort to them.

“Cuckooing is a horrendous practice, which we are determined to crack down on in Greater Manchester.”

The two defendants will appear at Minshull Street Crown Court for sentencing on Friday 28th January 2022.

Comments / 24

Mandy Barnett

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims family. I’m not exactly sure what “deemed vulnerable” means but I am going to guess it’s similar to having some type of medical problems in which they need around the clock care. In my state it’s called a disability. Regardless of what the victim had to be killed is horrible and I pray that they receive a large punishment.

ashamed of the race

England is far too soft on their criminals.. these two will be out on the street in 10 years..


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