A man who fled to Spain after a Gravesend resident was gunned down outside his home in 2001 has been jailed for 18 years.
Terence Barry, of no fixed address, was yesterday found guilty of conspiracy to murder Leonard Naylor in Istead Rise in April 2001.
Mr Naylor, who was 46 at the time, died from multiple gunshot wounds after a masked hitman opened fire on the driveway of his home in Bracondale Avenue.
Cold case investigators from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate continued to review the evidence in the years that followed and earlier this year presented a case to the Crown Prosecution Service for charges to be brought against four men they believed to have been involved in Mr Naylor’s death.
Terence Barry, 44, was subsequently charged with conspiracy to murder and was convicted at Blackfriars Crown Court today.
Robert Blackwell, 52, from Plaistow, London, and David Carvell, 52, from Colchester in Essex, were both found not guilty by the jury while the case against a fourth suspect was dismissed at an earlier hearing.
Detectives discovered preparations for Mr Naylor's murder began in January 2001, when they believe Barry was recruited to help carry out the offence.
A number of vehicles were purchased — including two used during the attack — using false details.
These were driven into Kent on a number of occasions during the five days prior to the murder, which were believed to have either been dry runs or missed opportunities.
On Wednesday, April 18 2001 Mr Naylor drove to his home, parked on the driveway and got out.
A masked man then approached him from a small van that had stopped at the address and shot him four times at close range.
The killer then returned to the van, which was driven away by an accomplice. The vehicle was later found abandoned and burnt out nearby, with a separate car used by the offenders to leave the county.
Barry, who was known as Terrence Richardson at the time, then fled to Spain before returning to the UK in 2013.
He was arrested with the other suspects in March after warrants were executed at a number of properties in Essex.
Senior investigating officer Det Insp Ivan Beasley said: "This has been a very difficult and complex investigation and I am pleased the long hours and hard work put in by the cold case team has paid off with the conviction of Terence Barry.
"I am pleased for the family of Mr Naylor that Barry will now spend a considerable length of time in prison, having spent the last 16 years not knowing if anyone would ever be held responsible.
"I hope this conviction sends a strong message that no case is ever truly closed and there is ultimately no hiding place from the law. Kent Police does not tolerate people who come into the county to commit crime of any type, let alone an offence as serious as this."