A FATHER-OF-THREE was kicked and punched to death after attempting to stop a thief stealing his car, a court was told.
Dean Armitage, 49, confronted 34-year-old David Sindall outside his home in Hoyland, near Barnsley, last July after he found him in the driver’s seat of his Range Rover.
A jury at Sheffield Crown Court heard that Mr Armitage was left with serious head injuries after Sindall allegedly pushed him to the ground before kicking and punching him. He died in hospital weeks after the attack having never regained consciousness.
The alleged attack took place just hours after Sindall told people in a pub that he was going to “pinch a car tonight”.
Opening his case, prosecutor Graham Reeds QC told a jury that Sindall of Eastwood, Rotherham, got into the home of the Armitages 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 onto the driveway.
A voice, which the prosecution alleges is Sindall’s, can be heard on audio captured by CCTV on the neighbour’s house in which he threatens Mr Armitage.
Sindall, who denies murder but admits causing the death of Mr Armitage, says he pushed him but denies striking any blows.
He told police Mr Armitage went “weak at the knees ... before he even fell ... as if he went weak”.
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 per cent 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 Royal Hallamshire Hospital.
The court was told 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 of manslaughter at an earlier hearing.
Mr Reeds told jurors he believed what happened went “beyond manslaughter”. The trial is expected to last 10 days.