THE shotgun killing of Leeds man Christopher Hartley had all the hallmarks of a drug deal gone wrong.
But murder squad detectives unravelled the lies surrounding the brutal murder of Mr Hartley, 45, an illegal drugs manufacturer from Tingley.
Now the team who cracked the case have been praised at an awards ceremony for their "exceptional" detective work.
After a complex investigation, officers from West Yorkshire Police's homicide and major inquiry team discovered Mr Hartley's long-term gay lover David Large of Rona Croft, Rothwell, had paid friend Simon Mullen to get rid of Hartley.
Large had started a new relationship with a Wakefield woman and wanted rid of Mr Hartley, found dead in a layby in Clayton West, near Wakefield last September.
Large, 35, and Mullen, 39, of South Shields, both denied murder.
Following the killing, Large and Mullen concocted a complex alibi, saying it was a drugs deal gone wrong.
At Bradford Crown Court in May they were each sentenced to life with minimum 30-year terms.
The investigation team, led by Det Supt Chris Thompson, were commended for their roles in the investigation into Mr Hartley's murder, at a ceremony in Bradford.
Recently-retired major inquiry team head Det Chief Supt Max McLean paid tribute to the team and presented them with a crown court judge's commendation.
Judge James Goss said in the commendation: "This was a difficult investigation made all the more challenging due to the calculated nature of the offence and the false trail."
The commendation was just one of a string of plaudits heaped on the detective unit at the ceremony.
The team – led by Det Supt Bill Shackleton – which investigated the murder of Leeds student, Joseph Cook also received a judge's commendation.
Mr Cook, 20, was found stabbed to death in his bedroom at a house on Ebberston Terrace, Hyde Park last August.
Heroin addicted burglar Gareth Brear, 31, formerly of Royal Park Terrace, Leeds, was jailed for life at Leeds Crown Court in March.
A judge's commendation was also handed to the team – again led by Det Supt Bill Shackleton – which investigated the murder of Jin Xue, 39, and his wife Li Xie, 36, in July 2009.
The couple had been reported missing from their home in Bramley, but were later found in dead in a car boot on Kensington Way, Holbeck.
Ji Peng, 24, and Lu Yao Jia, 20, had abducted and killed the couple in a plot to hijack their Chinese takeaway. Both were given a minimum of 34 years in prison at Leeds Crown Court in March.
Det Supt Bill Shackleton, said: "(This] is a world class team working for West Yorkshire Police and Authority.
" I would like to pay particular tribute to Max Mclean for his leadership in recent times and wish him all the best in his retirement from the force."
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