TWO criminals have been sentenced for plotting to stop a grieving mother from going to her son’s inquest.

Prolific offender Daniel Valentine and co-defendant Matthew East hugged each other tightly in the dock as they were sentenced for conspiring to stop Mary Walters from giving evidence at her 20-year-old son Jake Foxall’s inquest.

Grinning and nodding his head, serving prisoner Valentine was told he would be locked up for a further 18 months but celebrated, shouting to his family: “I’m out in the same year.”

Alcoholic East was given a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years, with a 12-month alcohol treatment requirement and a 25-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

Sentencing at Oxford Crown Court on Thursday, Judge Ian Pringle QC told Valentine he was becoming institutionalised after the convict revealed he thought time behind bars was ‘wicked’ and claimed it had ‘been his life’ since he was about 15.

The judge said Valentine was ‘nervous’ about what Ms Walters would say at the inquest, fearing he would be incriminated, and called on former HMP Bullingdon cellmate East.

During the pair’s trial earlier this month, jurors were told Foxall killed himself while on remand at HMP Glen Parva, in Leicestershire, in November 2015.

He had committed a robbery with Valentine, snatching jewellery and cash from a woman at knifepoint, and making off in her car.

Foxall, who confessed to his offending when arrested, was due to give evidence against Valentine at trial and was remanded in the prison.

Judge Pringle told the court: “You put some pressure on him [Foxall] by messages, no doubt, getting through to him.”

Prosecutor Naomi Perry told jurors Valentine called East, while serving a five-year jail term for the robbery, telling him to stop Ms Walters, of Chilton, near Didcot, from giving evidence at the upcoming inquest at Leicester Town Hall.

In one conversation, Valentine was recorded telling East: “If she gets to that inquest, I’m on charges.”

In another phone call, East said: “You want her off the road, smash and run then? Something like that?”

Valentine replied: “Something like that. Matty use your discretion. Remember this is a prison phone so I can’t tell you what you’ve got to do.”

Valentine took the stand during the trial, claiming he was a ‘storyteller’ and Foxall was not his friend.

He told jurors he knew phone calls from prison were recorded and recalled screeching ‘I’m going home’ when he discovered Foxall had died.

East told jurors he was drunk during calls with his co-defendant, as well as during his police interview.

Valentine, of HMP Lowdham Grange, Nottinghamshire, and East, of The Crescent, Didcot, both 36, were convicted of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice between August 22 and 29 last year. 

A jury of three men and nine women also convicted Valentine of intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence.