Thomas Campbell murder investigation, how they hunted his killer ex down

Coleen Campbell, Reece Steven and Stephen Cleworth were all jailed earlier this week for their roles in the horrific killing of Coleen’s ex husband Thomas Campbell.

Thomas Campbell was “jumped” on his doorstep at his home in Mossley

Thomas Campbell, 38, was beaten up, stabbed and burned with boiling water after three men ambushed him at his front door.

One of the three attackers, Reece Steven, 29, was convicted of murder and sentenced to serve at least 37 years in jail. Stephen Cleworth, 38, who was not present at the scene but was involved in the extensive preparations in the days before the killing, including placing a tracking device on Campbell’s van, was found guilty of manslaughter.

He was jailed for life, to serve a minimum of 12 years. Coleen Campbell, 38, who had been married to Campbell for 10 years before they divorced in 2021, was also convicted of manslaughter.

Coleen Campbell caught on camera during a phone call with John Belfield, hours before her ex-husband’s death

She provided key intelligence to his killers, to help them track her ex’s movements. Coleen Campbell spoke with John Belfield, 28, the alleged ‘mastermind’ of the attack, who is now on the run and wanted by police on suspicion of murder.

Belfield is alleged to have been the second of the three attackers who struck at Mr Campbell’s home in Mossley, Tameside, late on Saturday, July 2 last year.

Police believe Coleen Campbell was motivated by jealousy, after her ex had started a new relationship with Belfield’s former partner.

Greater Manchester Police’s Major Incident Team had been called to a three storey house in Mossley, at about 10.30am on Sunday, July 3, after Lee Barraclough noticed his neighbour’s door was wide open. His neighbour had only lived there for a few weeks, and he’d not really spoken to him properly yet. But what he saw when he went to investigate, after returning home from a bike ride earlier that morning, will live with him forever.

He found a man lying in the hallway, naked apart from a pair of socks, clearly deceased and covered in blood.

Officers did not instantly know who the dead man was. Thomas Campbell had only moved in fairly recently, and his van on the front drive was insured under someone else’s name.

After some research, the detectives soon learned of Campbell’s criminal past. And with the nature of the crime scene that they were met with, a gangland killing was the obvious hypothesis.

The detectives would have been forgiven for thinking that it might be an open and shut case, and that DNA evidence would be plentiful. Little did they know on that Sunday morning, that crime scene investigators would remain at the house in sweltering conditions for two weeks.

“We know now that they cleaned up after themselves, this is now forensically aware they were.” As well as removing any incriminating DNA, the attackers had also ripped out the hard drive of the CCTV system in the house, and the video doorbell at the front door.

A phone call Belfield made two hours before Thomas Campbell was ambushed was illuminating. He had spoken with Campbell’s ex-wife, Coleen Campbell, for 25 minutes.

John Belfield, the alleged ‘mastermind’ of the attack

Later, detectives discovered Belfield’s mobile phone, which had been passed on to someone else. On the device, they recovered messages Coleen had sent Belfield, including part of her ex-husband’s van’s registration plate, and his house number.

The detectives had suspected that a tracking device, which has a GPS signal and can be used to monitor someone’s movements, may have been placed on Campbell’s car. They had CCTV footage which suggested this. But a quick phone call confirmed their theory.

Investigators had the mobile data which showed where the tracker had been, and when. It had first been activated on June 27, the day Belfield met with Reece Steven and Stephen Cleworth in the Boat and Horses pub in Chadderton, the same day the tracker was stuck on Campbell’s car by Cleworth.

Reece Steven, Stephen Cleworth and John Belfield at the Boat and Horses pub in Chadderton, Oldham

But being a standard mobile phone, it also had a GPS signal which tracked where it was, and when. Police were able to trace its movements before it had been thrown in the water. “That is the only phone out of all of the numbers that was there during the attack on July 2,”.

“It had been with Belfield previously, and Reece Steven was with Belfield, that’s how you link it all.” Close to the canal, the police also happened upon a patch of grass, where it was obvious there had been a fire.

There they found Thomas Campbell’s driving licence and a flask, which had both been burned. The flask, it seemed, had been used to bring the hot water to the scene of the killing, as part of the torture.

DI Davis said: “Why would you take a flask to do a robbery? You’re taking it for one reason only, it’s either to use or threaten to use.”

It was enough to see Coleen Campbell, Reece Steven and Stephen Cleworth arrested, and ultimately convicted for playing their own separate parts in an appalling crime. “Belfield was the brains, and Cleworth and Steven were the thugs,” DS Davies said.

The trio are now behind bars after being sentenced earlier this week. But for DI Davis and his team, the hard work continues as they seek to find John Belfield, and ensure he has his day in court. He is ‘urgently wanted’, on suspicion of murder.

Coleen Campbell, 38, of Bamford Street, Clayton, was found not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter. Stephen Cleworth, 38, of Charles Street, Heywood, was found not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter. Reece Steven, 29, of Poplar Street, Middleton, was found guilty of murder. The trio were all found guilty of conspiracy to rob following a five week trial at Bolton Crown Court.

Belfield is still at large as of now, Police are desperately looking for this man!

They now believe he is no longer in the UK. He is considered a dangerous individual, and must not be approached. If you do see Belfield, call 999 immediately.

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