BREAKING NEWS: Doncaster man gets 15 years for Christmas Eve murder of stepfather

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A DONCASTER man is begininng a 15 year jail sentence today after being found guilty of murder.

Jay Griffiths was sentenced today at Sheffield Crown Court for the murder of Andrew Massarella on Christmas Eve 2011.

Griffiths, 25, from Highbury Avenue, Doncaster, had pleaded guilty to the murder of his 40-year-old stepfather.

It came after a fire was reported to South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue at about 3.20am on Saturday, 24 December 2011.

Firefighters entered the flat on Callender Court, Middleham Road, in Cantley and found Andrew’s body in suspicious circumstances.

Specialists from the Forensic Science Service, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and South Yorkshire Police jointly investigated the death, which initially looked to be suicide.

But investigations continued and in July 2012, a witness contacted South Yorkshire Police with new evidence.

Robert Danby, 61 and Zena Hancock, 45, pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Robert Danby was sentenced to two years amd Zena Hancock, 19 months. They met with Griffiths later that same Christmas Eve morning and helped him leave the Doncaster area.

Detective Superintendent Terry Mann said: “This has been a long and complex case. The fire damage caused to Andrew’s flat made the assessment of the crime scene very difficult for our forensic teams and other specialists. “The circumstances of that fateful Christmas Eve did not become clear until much later in the investigation.

“Extensive forensic tests and analysis showed the cause of death to be strangulation with a discarded cigarette being the probable cause of a slow burning fire.

“I would like to thank the public for coming forward with key information, which greatly assisted the police investigation. The family have remained determined for those responsible to appear in court and today they have had the satisfaction that justice has now been served.”

The family issued a statement after the case on behalf of Andrew’s parents Nick and Diane Massarella and siblings Louise, Richard and Maria which read: “Andrew was a much loved son, brother and uncle.

“Our family were devastated when Andrew died. He had everything to live for. We will never understand why Jay Griffiths did what he did. He cannot begin to understand the loss that we feel.

“We would like to thank the police and all of the witnesses and other agencies involved in bringing Jay Griffiths to justice.

“We ask that we be left alone to grieve in private.”