Warwick man ‘caused death’ of OAP, Jury hears

The scales of justice
The scales of justice

A young Warwick man caused the death a frail pensioner from a heart attack following a confrontation after banging on his window, a jury has been told.

Steven Jones then plotted with a group of friends to lie about the incident, and beat up a youngster who had co-operated with the police investigation, it is alleged.

William Heathcote NNL-150528-113029001

William Heathcote NNL-150528-113029001

Jones, 25, who is from Warwick but of no fixed address, has pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to the manslaughter of 75-year-old William Heathcote in November 2014.

He and three teenagers, Frankie McDonagh, 19, of Cherry Street, Warwick; Stephan Reilly (19) of Willes Road, Leamington; and Paige Tomlinson, 18, of Mercia Way, Warwick, have all denied perverting the course of justice.

Jones also denies intimidating a teenage witness by assaulting and threatening him, knowing he was to be a witness.

Prosecutor Benjamin Aina QC told the jury: “On Tuesday the 18th of November 2014, at 8.20 in the evening, a 23-year-old man banged on the window of residential premises in Warwick.

“The prosecution say that 23-year-old man was Steven Jones. He was with a group of his friends who were at the time aged between 15 and 17.

“There had been a campaign of banging on the windows of this address by local youths, designed to harass and alarm the occupier; and it is the prosecution case that Steven Jones banged on the window as part of this campaign of harassment.

“The occupier of the address was a 75-year-old man, William Heathcote, who was familiarly known as Bill.

“Bill had suffered a stroke in 2007, and as a result he had weakness in his right arm and difficulty in speaking and difficulty in walking. He was a frail man,” said Mr Aina.

“It is the prosecution case that when Steven Jones banged on Bill’s window he knew Bill was inside, he knew Bill was elderly and frail, and he knew Bill had difficulty speaking and walking.”

Mr Aina said Jones knew Bill had symptoms similar to those displayed by his own mother, who had suffered a stroke.

“It is the prosecution case that his act of banging on the window was an intentional act of harassment designed to bring a frail, poorly, elderly man out of his premises so that he could be taunted.”

And as a result the pensioner came out in a state of annoyance, without putting on socks or shoes, and holding a broom with the handle-end away from him, shouting at Jones to go away.

He began swinging the broom at Jones, who was laughing and dodging out of the way, knocking the broom away, but remaining close to Bill, ‘taunting him by his presence.’

“At one point Bill was able to hit Steven Jones on the shoulder with the broom, but Steven Jones just laughed and then ran towards his young friends.

“It was at this point Bill suffered a heart attack and collapsed. An ambulance was summoned and he was taken to Warwick Hospital, but was declared dead at 9.35 in the evening.

“It is the prosecution case Steven Jones was responsible for the death of Bill and in law is guilty of his manslaughter.”

Of the allegation faced by all four defendants of conspiring to pervert the course of justice, Mr Aina explained: “Following the incident Steven Jones conspired with his friends to tell the police a lie about what had happened.

“It was a lie that it was another group of unknown youths who had been responsible, a lie told in order to conceal the fact that it was Steven Jones who had banged on the window.”

In addition, Jones was alleged to have assaulted a teenager who had made a statement to the police about the incident and is to be a witness in the trial, in August last year with intent to intimidate him.

Mr Aina said there was a further charge of taking revenge on that youth for assisting the police, which Jones had admitted.

He explained: “It is the prosecution case that Steven Jones has tried to frustrate this prosecution by beating up one of the main prosecution witnesses against him.

“The Crown say the purpose was to prevent [the youth] from giving evidence in this trial.

“He accepts he assaulted him, knowing he was to be a prosecution witness... but he does not accept he intended to prevent the teenager from giving evidence.”

The jury was told Jones’s defence to the manslaughter charge was that it was not him, but the youngster, who was 16 at the time, who banged on the window of Mr Heathcote’s home in Pickard Street, which had a large front window because it used to be a shop.

But Mr Aina said: “A plank of the prosecution case is that [the 16-year-old’s] DNA was not found on the window, but Steven Jones’s DNA was. That may help you decide where the truth lies.”

Prior to that night there had been a spate of incidents of banging on windows in the area, including Bill’s home, and on that evening it was said the 16-year-old was in a group which included Tomlinson and the other defendants.

But as they walked along Pickard Street, Jones dropped back and the youth walked with Tomlinson and another teenage girl, Michelle Baron, to the nearby park.

Jones then called to Miss Baron, and the girls went over, but the youth had not wanted to get involved and stayed where he was.

By then the incident had happened, and Jones, who seemed to be panicking, and others rushed over to the pensioner, and he began rubbing Bill’s chest before Michelle Baron put him in the recovery position and called for an ambulance.

Paramedics attended the scene, but were unable to resuscitate him.

During the emergency call it was said Jones could be heard saying to get the police, adding ‘I’ll tell them it was me,’ which Mr Aina suggested ‘was confession evidence.’

By the time the police arrived it had been agreed to say another group of youngsters had been responsible, allegedly to protect Jones – who the jury was told now says it was to protect the 16-year-old youth, who he says was the one who banged the window.

But Mr Aina said Jones was the only one of the group wearing gloves that night, and forensic investigators found marks made by gloved hands either side of the spot on the window where Jones’s DNA was found.

He suggested that middle spot had been where Jones had peered through the window to check that Bill was there before banging on it.

The trial continues.