‘He should never have been on the streets’: Life for couple who murdered Barnsley pensioner John Gogarty

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A CONVICTED killer out on licence and his girlfriend were today given life sentences for the ‘frenzied’ murder of a South Yorkshire pensioner.

Ian Birley, 43, and Helen Nichols, 38, both of Mont Walk, Wombwell, denied murdering John Gogarty but were found guilty following a trial.

Ian Birley has been found guilty of murdering John Gogarty

Ian Birley has been found guilty of murdering John Gogarty

Birley will never be eligible for release from prison again and Nichols must serve 20 years before she is eligible for release from prison.

Birley was also given a concurrent jail term of 16 years for robbery and Nichols was given 12 years.

The 65-year-old property developer died as a result of the injuries he sustained in an attack at his home in Marsh Street, Wombwell on the evening of July 13 this year.

Mr Gogarty’s body was discovered four days later by his son John Jr, who found his father lying on the floor ‘covered in blood’.

John Gogarty

John Gogarty

In a statement read out at Sheffield Crown Court by his daughter Nicola, Mr Gogarty was described as a ‘wonderful, kind, funny and generous’ man.

She said she will never forgive Birley for what he has done and branded him a coward.

She added Nichols and Birley ‘should never have been on the streets’.

Justice King said the defenceless Mr Gogarty was killed in a ‘frenzied’ attack.

Helen Nichols

Helen Nichols

He told Birley: “You have never shown any remorse for this killing and have chosen to fight this case to its conclusion.”

He added that Nichols’ role in the murder was ‘considerably less’ than Birley’s but she should be ashamed that she did nothing to assist Mr Gogarty.

Following the verdicts, the jury was told that Birley was out on licence for another murder at the time of the attack.

His first victim Maurice Hoyle was also killed in his own home in a sustained attack and then robbed.

As in this case, Birley tried to sell the victim’s stolen property and burnt clothing worn during the killing.

The court also heard that Nichols has previously been to jail seven times and has 40 convictions, mainly for shoplifting offences.

Birley was also found guilty of robbing Mr Gogarty. Nicholas had earlier pleaded guilty to the same charge.

During the three-week trial, the jury heard the couple had robbed him to pay off a £500 drugs debt to a Sheffield drugs dealer.

Mr Gogarty was stabbed 69 times, with ‘numerous’ stab wounds inflicted while he was lying on the floor.

The court heard that Nichols accepted she was at the scene but said she played no part in the murder, which she said was committed by Birley.

Birley said he had nothing to do with the murder and denied being at the scene.

During the investigation, police officers searched the property and found several distinctive, expensive were missing.

Detectives also found a £500 ATM receipt from Barclays Bank on Wombwell High Street dated 6.53pm on Monday July, 13.

CCTV of the ATM machine showed Nichols withdrawing £500 from Mr Gogarty’s account.

Further CCTV showed Birley and Nichols walking onto Marsh Street at around 6.40pm and leaving Marsh Street at around 7.08pm on July 13.