THE neighbours of Michael Griffiths, who was killed in his home in January last year, have spoken of their devastation at losing the ‘best neighbour you could ask for’.
Ken and Dorothy Young lived next door to the 59-year-old, whose killers were last week sentenced to life in prison.
“The sentence is justified but those young men are 23 and 24 years old. They should not have got a minimum of 32 years, but the rest of their lives,” said Ken.
Paying tribute, he said: “Mike’s brothers were absolutely devastated. You just could not have asked for a better neighbour. The last night I saw him, he was clearing the snow from our driveway.”
Dorothy added: “I put my head out the window and thanked him.
“We knew Michael so well. You could talk to him about any subject – he was interested in everything – your family, what you did that day. He was a truly lovely character.”
“He used to help us cut our lawn,” said Ken. “We had a little set-up – whoever got out there first would cut both lawns.
“Mike won nine times out of ten, he would always beat me to it.”
The couple put their own lives at risk by attempting to save Michael from the fire that devastated his Fernhurst home on January 24, 2013.
The judge in Michael’s trial, Michael Lawson QC, was so impressed by their bravery, he has asked the high sheriff of the county to commend their act.
He said the gang ‘paid no regard’ to the Youngs when setting the fire and said of Dorothy and Ken: “They must have been terrified, but they did not forget their neighbour.
“I recommend that there be public recognition of their efforts.”
Ken said of the commendation: “I would have done anything for Mike.” Dorothy added: “We don’t expect anything. Anyone wold have done the same.”
Speaking about the blaze she said: “I remember it so clearly. Our bedroom filled with smoke and it was coming up the stairs.”
“I put a key in Michael’s lock and hammered on the door,” said Ken.
“I have never seen anything like it. It was like watching iron smelting.”
The Youngs had to leave their house for three months after the fire and stay at a bed and breakfast in Midhurst.
Speaking of the murder investigation, Dorothy said: “It became very distressing, but people have been so kind.
“The Brethren church don’t have much to do with the village, but they helped us through it. They fed and clothed us and provided food and drinks for the police. They were marvellous.”
She also praised police officers, adding: “The police have been excellent, I couldn’t commend them more.”