Damion Johson kept his friend’s body in a freezer at their Birmingham flat & stole money from his bank account

Carer Damion Johnson has been jailed after he pleaded guilty to keeping John Wainwright’s body in a freezer in a Birmingham flat after he died
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He described John Wainwright as a father-figure and was paid an allowance to care for him at the flat they shared in Holloway Head in Birmingham after knowing him for 27 years.

But when Mr Wainwright died aged 71, Damion Johnson failed to tell his family - and, instead, bought a freezer online and callously kept his friend’s body in it for two years while he withdrew money from the deceased man’s bank account.

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The body of Mr Wainwright was discovered inside the freezer by workmen at a skip yard in Warwickshire in August 2020, after Johnson was evicted from the flat which was cleared by contractors.

The 51 year-old pleaded guilty at Derby Crown Court to preventing the lawful and decent burial of a dead body in May 2023 - and yesterday (Tuesday, December 5) he was sentenced to two years in jail for preventing a lawful burial - and received six months for each of the three counts of fraud, which will run concurrently.

It is believed that Mr Wainwright died in September 2018. The freezer was delivered on September 28. And Johnson left the freezer containing Mr Wainwright’s body inside the flat when he was evicted in December 2019.

Officers investigating the death discovered that - from September 2018 until August 2020 - Johnson had been using Mr Wainwright’s bank card and bank account to fund his lifestyle. It’s estimated that over £20,000 was stolen over two years which included a carer’s allowance that Johnson continued to claim. 

Damion Johnson kept friend's body in a freezer at their Birmingham flatDamion Johnson kept friend's body in a freezer at their Birmingham flat
Damion Johnson kept friend's body in a freezer at their Birmingham flat
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When relatives of Mr Wainwright asked Johnson where their loved one was, he told them he had died and that the funeral had already taken place. He also covered his tracks with medical professionals who were treating Mr Wainwright for a long term medical condition, telling them that he had moved to a different area and that he had no forwarding address for him.

A post mortem revealed that Wainwright had injuries to his head, which Johnson claimed were sustained from a fall when he was out shopping, weeks before his death.

In an interview Johnson told officers that Wainwright had died of what he believed were natural causes and in his panic after finding his body he decided to conceal his death. He said he’d known Wainwright for over 27 years. However, when he was asked about why he had kept claiming benefits as his carer and used his bank card to steal funds, he didn’t have an answer.

West Midlands Police appealWest Midlands Police appeal
West Midlands Police appeal

‘He concocted a web of lies’

Inspector Ranj Sangha, who investigated the death, said: “Mr Wainwright was denied the dignity of a lawful burial and the circumstances of his death required investigation. 

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“Johnson has admitted placing him into a freezer after his death but denied causing him any harm or being responsible for his death. Johnson was being paid an allowance to be a carer for Mr Wainwright yet he had not sought medical treatment for him at any point in the months leading up to his death.

“The investigation shows that the freezer was ordered at the time of or shortly after his death and Johnson had kept the freezer at his home address showing complete disregard for his friend and although he has stated he was overcome with grief, Mr Wainwright was left in the flat for a number of years and his body was only discovered when the freezer was cleared to a skip yard. 

“Johnson said that he was suffering from hallucinations at the time of his friend’s death yet the ordering of the freezer and its delivery days later would show a degree of planning by Johnson. He then concocted a web of lies about Mr Wainwright’s death which has been consistently told to friends and family for his own benefit of receiving money that he wasn’t entitled to and a place to reside.  

“The discovery of the body after a period of two years was in tragic circumstances and has affected all those involved. However, Johnson has not once shown any remorse throughout the investigation for the way in which Mr Wainwright was treated.”