PROSTITUTE Emma Bate has been found guilty of murdering Stourbridge businessman Richard Sherratt at the end of a three-week trial.

The jury at Stafford Crown Court returned their verdict this morning (Thursday) after hearing how Bate, aged 27, and Paramjit Singh, who has already admitting killing the 57-year-old property developer, subjected Mr Sherratt to what police say was a callous and brutal ordeal.

Mr Sherratt was murdered in his rented home in Bridgnorth last June after the pair, who admitted being heavy users of crack-cocaine at the time, visited the flat to rob their victim to pay for drugs.

Speaking shortly after the verdict was returned, Detective Inspector Steve Tonks, from West Mercia Police, said: "The motive for this crime was clearly greed and the defendants Singh and Bate resorted to violence in seeking access to their victim’s money.

"It was a premeditated crime whereby they planned to rob Mr Sherratt and to commit fraud by withdrawing funds from his bank accounts. They planned to travel late at night when they knew Mr Sherratt would be at home and would be asleep.

"The court heard distressing details about the degree of violence used while Mr Sherratt was held captive and tortured in his own home last June.

"He was subjected to a callous and brutal ordeal with the injuries sustained, sadly resulting in his death.

"Today’s verdicts send out a strong message that anyone resorting to violence for criminal purposes, will be brought to justice. The police will strive to quickly arrest offenders putting them before the courts where they can expect to receive lengthy custodial sentences.

"I also hope today’s verdicts will bring a degree of closure for Mr Sherratt’s family and friends.

"In particular, I would like to thank his daughter and his two sons for the support they have given to the police investigation, whilst coping with the loss of their father.

"I would also like to thank the many witnesses who came forward to help the police during the course of the investigation, a number of whom have given evidence in this trial.

"The circumstances of this case with its tragic outcome have been harrowing. Fortunately, incidents of this nature are relatively rare in Shropshire and those responsible for this murder were traced and arrested within two days of Mr Sherratt being found."

A third defendant in the case, Michael Smith, aged 51, of Horton Street, Tipton, was acquitted of robbing and defrauding Mr Sherratt.