TRIBUTE has been paid to a ‘gentle soul’ who was killed when more than 160 injuries were inflicted upon him by a ‘controlling and cowardly’ murderer.

Michael Brierley was found dead in his Berkeley Close, Nelson, with a catalogue of catastrophic injuries to his head, body and limbs.

Those fatal injuries – inflicted with weapons such as screwdrivers and a piece of metal bed frame – had been issued by killer Naeem Mustafa, who had exerted a controlling relationship over Mr Brierley for several months.

This morning at Preston Crown Court the Honourable Mr Justice Barry Cotter jailed Mustafa for xx years.

In a statement released after Mustafa was found guilty of killing Mr Brierley, his family said: “From the moment we learnt of Michael’s murder we have struggled to understand how and why this happened.

“Michael was a gentle soul who put others before himself and was a carer for his partner. During the trial Naeem Mustafa has told lie upon lie and has never explained why he felt is necessary to inflict over 160 injuries to Michael’s body. We will never know what made him do this.

“He is a coward and a bully. Michael was murdered in his own home where he should have felt safe by a man who he considered to be a friend.

“Attending Michael’s trial has proved exceptionally difficult having to listen to all the evidence in detail and knowing that in the final moments of his life he would have been frightened and in immense pain.

“The loss of Michael has left a huge hole in our hearts, may he now rest in peace.”