Heroin addict in brutal killing of kindly man, 80

AN ELDERLY man was brutally murdered in his own home by a drug addict desperate to steal money for another fix.

Alan Pedder, 80, trusted Michael Dalton because he had previously done some gardening work for him but when the pensioner opened the door to him on August 27 he was letting in his killer, Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday.

Dalton had failed in attempts to get money in other ways to fund his crack cocaine and heroin habit and having borrowed from retired dustman Mr Pedder in the past he thought he would try that again.

But when the pensioner refused him he snatched a kitchen knife in his victim's Bradford home and stabbed him in the back of the head, neck and upper body inflicting 18 stab and incision wounds.

Jonathan Sharp prosecuting told the court one of those cut the pensioner's carotid artery which would have caused him to rapidly lose consciousness and die.

His attacker then stole his wallet from his pocket and fled the scene making straight for his dealers.

Dalton, 45, of Currer Street, Little Germany, Bradford, was jailed for life after admitting the murder of Mr Pedder at his home in Gibson Street, Laisterdyke.

Ordering him to serve a minimum of 22 years Judge James Goss QC told him: "It was a brutal killing of an elderly and vulnerable man in his own home."

"He was a kindly, quiet man, honest, respectful and trusting of friends. He hoped and expected to end his days peacefully, but by your actions and desperation for money to buy drugs to feed your addiction he was denied such an end to his life."

Mr Sharp said Mr Pedder, who had also previously served in the Northumberland Fusiliers, lived on his own following the death of his wife. He was wary of letting people in he did not know.

On the last afternoon of his life he was seen about 3pm doing some shopping but his habit was to be home with the curtains closed from about 5pm.

Dalton had a long history of drug abuse and at the time was on a high daily dose of methadone but also still spending about 35 a day on heroin and crack cocaine.

As a result he was in constant need of money and was running out of options having spent his 80 a week benefits, having been arrested and bailed for shoplifting, and having borrowed money already from friends.

He was described as "rattling" because of his need for drugs before he left his flat around 6.39pm and going to the pensioner's home.

After the attack he stole Mr Pedder's wallet containing about 100 but in his hurry left without taking other cash. Mr Pedder's body was found by his nephew William the next morning and Dalton was arrested.

Neil Davey, QC for Dalton, said now clean of drugs in prison he could not believe what he had done through his desperate craving and was deeply remorseful, leading to his guilty plea.

After the case Mr Pedder's nephew William thanked friends and neighbours who provided assistance to the police in catching the killer. "Alan will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him, an elderly man who did not deserve his fate. "

Det Chief Inspector Simon Bottomley said Dalton was a "cowardly individual who preyed on a vulnerable elderly man."

"Several years ago Dalton was often seen in the Leeds Road area of Bradford touting to do odd job work and had done some gardening for Mr Pedder in the past. However on this occasion his visit was motivated by greed and fuelled by addiction."

He said he hoped the sentence would bring some comfort to Mr Pedder's family and thanked the community for their support during the investigation.