Car thief ‘murdered Barnsley dad-of-three on his own driveway’

Dean Armitage
Dean Armitage
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A WOULD-BE car thief killed a father-of-three by kicking and punching him on his drive in South Yorkshire after being confronted by him, a court has heard.

David Sindall, 34, went on trial today accused of murdering Dean Armitage, 49, outside his home in Hoyland, near Barnsley, last July.

The scene of the alleged attack

The scene of the alleged attack

A jury at Sheffield Crown Court heard that Sindall told people in a pub that he was going to “pinch a car tonight”. Hours later he burgled the home of Mr Armitage and took the keys to the family’s Range Rover.

Wearing just his underwear, Mr Armitage confronted Sindall, of Eastwood, Rotherham, as he sat in the driver’s seat of the car.

The court heard Mr Armitage was left with serious head injuries after Sindall allegedly pushed him to the ground and kicked and punched him.

He died in hospital weeks after the attack having never regained consciousness, the court heard.

Opening his case, prosecutor Graham Reeds QC told a jury that Sindall got into the Armitages’ house on Skiers View Road at around 3.30am on July 21 through an unlocked door.

He stole a handbag, some shopping bags and the keys to the car from the kitchen before going outside and getting into the vehicle.

Mr Armitage was alerted to the burglary by his son’s girlfriend who was staying at the house and heard the Range Rover’s engine start.

He ran outside in his underwear to confront Sindall.

A neighbour told police he saw Mr Armitage grab hold of the defendant as if to pull him out of the driver’s seat.

Mr Reeds told the court that the neighbour said he heard Sindall shout: “I’ll show you,” before hitting his victim with what he described as “a heavy blow” with a lit torch. They then both fell on to the driveway.

A voice, which the prosecution alleges is Sindall’s, can be heard on audio captured by CCTV on the neighbour’s house saying: “I’m gonna show thee... f***ing seriously... show thee,” overlaid by a scuffle.

Sindall, who denies murder but admits causing the death of Mr Armitage, admits pushing him during the confrontation but denies striking any blows, the court heard.

He told police Mr Armitage went “weak at the knees ... before he even fell ... as if he went weak”, Mr Reeds told the court.

However the neighbour told police he remembers Sindall kicking his victim in the body while he was on the ground.

“He thought the defendant also punched or hit Mr Armitage again when he was down but he is not 100% certain about this. He then saw the defendant run off up the driveway and away from the area,” Mr Reeds told the court.

The court heard Sindall went to a friend’s house after the incident and told them: “I might have killed somebody.”

Mr Armitage was taken to Barnsley Hospital before being transferred to Sheffield’s Hallamshire Hospital for specialist treatment.

The court heard he died weeks later on August 9. A post-mortem examination concluded he died from head injuries.

Mr Reeds told the court: “The prosecution assert that hitting a man over the head with a torch or similar object after shouting, ‘I’ll show thee’, clearly indicates an intention to cause really serious harm.

“The further blow or blows delivered whilst Mr Armitage was on the ground are further support for this having been his intention. It was during this period that the fatal injury was caused.”

Following his arrest, Sindall told police he came across the car on the drive with the keys in the ignition and the door open, the court heard.

He told officers he started the engine but could not get the gear into drive and that Mr Armitage had then come out and grabbed him.

The jury was told that he admits causing the death of Mr Armitage unlawfully and that he pleaded guilty to an unlawful act manslaughter at a earlier hearing.

Concluding his opening statement, Mr Reeds told jurors he believed what happened went “beyond manslaughter”.

He said: “The prosecution say that if you deliberately hit a person over the head with an implement, targeted to a vulnerable area, or with sufficient force to make the person go weak at the knees and stumble, whilst at the same time shouting, ‘I’ll show thee ... f***ing seriously’, and that when the victim is insensible on the ground at least one further blow is delivered by a kick, what else can be intended but to cause really serious harm?

“It is on that basis that the prosecution will present the case against the defendant for murder.”

The trial is expected to last 10 days.