Mechanic who killed ‘hero’ Lancing father and covered it up wants 15-year jail term reduced

Gale (right) was jailed for the manslaughter of Mark Manning
Gale (right) was jailed for the manslaughter of Mark Manning

A Worthing mechanic who was jailed for 15 years and eight months for killing ‘hero’ father with a wrench is trying to get time knocked off his prison sentence.

Colin Gale, 41, was jailed in March last year for killing bomb-disposal expert Mark Manning, who had been missing since April 2014.

Mark Manning was last seen alive in April 2014. Picture: Sussex Police

Mark Manning was last seen alive in April 2014. Picture: Sussex Police

Gale – formerly of Offington Lane in Worthing – will appear before judges at the Court of Appeal in London on Thursday where they will decide whether he should have any time taken off his sentence.

He was convicted of two charges: manslaughter and preventing the lawful burial of a body.

Neither Lewes Crown Court or the Court of Appeal were able to confirm if Gale is appealing sentences for both crimes, or just one.

If his appeal is unsuccessful Gale could be liable for further court costs but could also be forced to start his sentence from the beginning.

Forensics teams at the site where human remains were found on Hampshire Hill in Slaugham

Forensics teams at the site where human remains were found on Hampshire Hill in Slaugham

Mr Manning, who lived in Lancing, was last seen alive in April 2014.

It was not until 2016 that remains identified as Mr Manning were found near Hampshire Hill in Mid Sussex, more than 20 miles from where he lived.

During the trial Gale told the court how he had owed Mark Manning £17,000 on April 19, 2014, the day Mr Manning disappeared, but only had about £2,000 in cash.

He said on the day Mr Manning had attacked him with an axe.

Gale said he swung out with a wrench to keep Mr Manning away.

Gale said the object he struck Mr Manning with was a metre-long, industrial Stillson wrench, which was heavier than he had expected.

“Then I just went out of control,” he said.

“I was terrified I was going to get the axe one way or another,” Colin Gale told the jury.

He went on to tell the court how he and Stewart Robertson had taken Mr Manning’s body into the countryside and hid it.

The jury found him not guilty of murder. They instead found him guilty of manslaughter with loss of control by majority verdict.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to preventing the lawful burial of a body.

Speaking at Gale’s sentencing at Lewes Crown Court last year, Shani Barnes told Gale: “You killed Mark Manning in a short momentary act of violence when you lost control.

“But you regained your composure enough to cover up what you had done by calling upon Stewart Robertson, who relied on you, to help you dispose of Mark’s body, get rid of the weapon and the mobile phones and then lie to Mark’s family about his whereabouts and misdirect the police.”

In a statement after the sentencing Mr Manning’s son Kane said: “My father was a hero, he saved many people’s lives around the world with his mine clearance work.

“I had an amazing bond with my father and I find it hard knowing my dad will never be around to see me grow up.”