THE brutal killers of a Stourbridge property developer have been jailed for life for his murder.

Prostitute and drug addict Emma Bate, aged 26, and boyfriend Paramjit Singh, aged 33, were today (Friday) given sentences totalling more than 40 years for the killing of Richard Sherratt - who was found battered on his bed in a flat in Bridgnorth.

Bate, who was convicted by a jury at Stafford Crown Court and who was said to be the “driving force” behind the crime, will serve at least 25 years before being considered for parole.

While Singh, who confessed to the crime at an early stage, must serve 18 years and four months in prison.

Judge Simon Tonking told them: "I am very conscious of the fact the sentences I have imposed will provide little or no comfort to those members of Richard Sherratt's family and friends. I pay tribute to the dignified way in which they have observed this case in court."

Mr Sherratt, a 57-year-old divorcee, suffocated on his own blood after being “tortured” with a knife to reveal the PIN numbers of his bank accounts the court heard during the trial.

Bate, a prostitute and a drug addict since the age of 14, claimed she played no part in the killing which took place on the night of June 13 last year, heaping all the blame on her boyfriend.

The jury heard Singh and Bate were driven from Birmingham to Bridgnorth by another of her 'customers', Michael Smith, 51, from Tipton, who was cleared of both murder and robbery charges.

They got to Bridgnorth around midnight. Smith parked up and stayed in the car while Bate and Singh went to Mr Sherratt's flat in Old School Mews where they knew he would be asleep, entering using a key she had been given - Peter Grieves-Smith, prosecuting, said.

Minutes later, Bate was using one of the victim's bank cards at a cash point, although her first try failed.

By 1am all three defendants were on their way back to Birmingham with Mr Sherratt's bank cards, some cash and a £10,000 watch.

CCTV cameras showed Bate and Singh laughing, hugging and kissing each other in the wake of the crime.

Later, she went shopping with Mr Sherratt's bank card.

During the time Bate and Singh were in the flat, Mr Sherratt was struck at least five times to the face and stabbed in the arm.

There were also pinprick injuries to his arm and neck - the result of attempts to extract the PIN numbers for his bank account, the prosecution claimed.

Pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt said Mr Sherratt suffered 38 injuries, including 23 to his face and head, and died within an hour of being hit - of lack of oxygen due to blood blocking his airways.

The court heard Mr Sherratt, a successful and affluent businessman, had been living in Bridgnorth after buying a plot of land there for a housing development project.

But the twice-divorced father-of-three, who was lonely and craved companionship, became “infatuated” with Bate whom he met through a Birmingham based escort agency.

He told friends Bate was his ‘girlfriend’ and he lavished money on her - spending on hotels and entertainment and putting £8,000 into her boyfriend's bank account. He also planned to take her on holiday to Dubai but she had no passport.

Mr Sherratt even introduced Bate to his daughter Jenny, who didn’t approve of the situation but she said she did not interfere because her dad seemed happy.

Her father's relationship with Bate "soured" in May when he discovered £800 had been stolen from his bank account.

He confronted Bate about it and she admitted taking the money and demanded a further £2,000 - or she would tell the police that he had caused a black eye she was sporting.

The loss of her "sugar daddy" had a devastating effect on Bate, who was desperate to feed her drug habit, and by June she was sending text messages begging for money.

After her arrest, she told police she regarded Mr Sherratt as "just a punter" even though he thought it was a proper relationship.

David Mason QC, for Bate, said drugs and prostitution had been her "daily life" since the age of 14 and he told the court the crime was a "robbery that went wrong, badly wrong”.

Jane Sarginson, for Singh, told the judge her client “was besotted by Bate at the time of the robbery and he is besotted by her now”.

The self confessed killer told police he and Bate never intended to kill Mr Sherratt - only to rob him.

He admitted going to the flat with knives and said Bate ended up stabbing the victim in the arm and putting a cushion over his face and when he removed the pillow Mr Sherratt's face was purple.

Peter Grieves-Smith, prosecuting, said: “The plan originated from Bate, Singh agreed to it. Plainly they must have thought about it before going over.

"The fact that a cushion was put over his face could only have been for one reason and they must have known Mr Sherratt would be able to identify those who had entered his house."