A MAN and woman have been jailed for life for beating a father so badly that police were unable to tell if his face was that of a man or a woman.

Roy Sly, 53, was tortured and killed by Vincent Harty and Lisa Marie Turner who had been his friends but turned on him.

Harty, 39, of Wakering Avenue, Shoeburyness, was found guilty of murder and given a minimum term of 30 years.

Turner, 33, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing. She was given a minimum term of 20 years at the Old Bailey.

Mr Justice Saunders said: "It is almost unthinkable that any human being could treat another in the way these defendants treated Roy Sly."

Normal inhibitions were absent from the killers because of damage done by years of drink and drug abuse. The judge added: "While it is hard to think of more depraved conduct, it would have been much worse if committed while sober and in their right mind."

Mr Sly, who lived apart from his former wife and three children because of his heavy drinking, had bought steak and wine for his guests, but at midnight, one of them cleared his bank account of £105 at an ATM.

Mr Sly was later subjected to torture and beating which caused his death at his home in Station Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, in January.

The hearing was halted briefly after a male dock officer fainted after hearing the harrowing details of the killing. He was taken down and replaced by a woman officer. During an earlier abandoned trial at Chelmsford Crown Court, a woman juror fainted when shown photographs of Mr Sly's body.

A second man, Peter Smith, 38, of Furnace Row, Troedyrhiw, Merthyr Tydfil, was cleared of murder and discharged.