Former soldier’s murderers told they face life

John Dean Richardson.
John Dean Richardson.
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FIVE men, including a father and son, are facing a life sentence for the brutal murder of a former soldier who was attacked in the street after a night out.

Ian Smith, 22 suffered severe head injuries, including fractures to his skull, after he was chased in South Elmsall, near Pontefract following an incident outside a takeaway.

He was tripped to the ground, and struck with a pick axe handle by one of his pursuers, John Simon Richardson, as well as being kicked and stamped on by others.

John Simon Richardson, 23 then of Harrow Street, South Elmsall has already admitted the murder of Mr Smith of Boycott Way, South Elmsall and yesterday his father, John Dean Richardson, 44, of Wakefield Road, Fitzwilliam, near Pontefract, was unanimously found guilty of murder by a jury at Leeds Crown Court.

The six man, six woman jury also found three other defendants, Liam Ackroyd 22, of Bell Lane, Ackworth, and Bradley Parkin, 22, and Neil Brown, 29 both of Mallard Mews, South Elmsall, unanimously guilty of the murder, on February 19.

The jury spent 11 hours deliberating and relatives of Mr Smith wept as the verdicts were given.

Some members of the jury also cried as the defendants who stood trial were taken from the dock and their loud protests at the verdicts could be heard behind the courtroom.

The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier QC, plans to sentence the five next Friday but warned that the life sentence was mandatory and he would be considering only the minimum tariffs to be imposed.

Mr Smith, who left the Army in 2009 after four years, had spent the evening of February 18 with his family celebrating the birthday of an aunt at the Royal British Legion Club in South Kirkby.

At about 10pm he took a taxi to South Elmsall with his brother Stephen and the pair were drinking in the Plough Inn, the Moorthorpe Hotel and the Little Un until about 1am.

He was described as merry and in a good mood when he separated from his brother intending to meet a friend, Sarah Brook, near the Mega Love takeaway at the junction of High Street and Barnsley Road.

When he got there he was told there was no more food being served but another friend, David Womack offered to share some of his.

The jury heard from Julian Goose QC prosecuting it was then an argument developed between Mr Smith and John Dean Richardson, who had already apparently rung Brown’s home in Mallard Mews where his son and others were partying asking for help over a dispute with a completely different group of youths.

A witness said Richardson senior tried to take some chips from Mr Smith who, annoyed at that, punched the older man, pushing him to the ground just before his son and others arrived in response to the call. Richardson senior told Mr Smith: “Now it’s your turn.”

Mr Smith ran off chased by Richardson junior who was carrying the pick axe handle and followed by Ackroyd, Parkin and Brown, who had arrived with him in two vehicles.

Their target was faster but having circled around returned near the takeaway bringing him back near Richardson senior, who tripped him, allowing the others to catch up.

Mr Smith was then viciously attacked as he lay defenceless on the ground.

The attack only stopped when Mr Womack shouted that the police were coming. Efforts were made to save Mr Smith’s life but were not successful.

After the verdicts Superintendent Sukhbir Singh said: “He was subjected to a despicable level of violence.

“These mindless acts robbed a family of their son. My thoughts today are with Ian’s family and friends who I hope can take some comfort from the convictions of those responsible.”