TWO brothers who were charged with murdering a drug-fuelled armed robber who held a gun to their parents' heads at their Leeds home have had the charges against them dropped, it can now be reported.
The Yorkshire Evening Post can reveal that murder charges against 19-year-old Daniel Ward and his brother Ian, 27, were discontinued because prosecutors could not prove how 50-year-old robber Adrian Mark Casey had died after a post mortem was inconclusive.
A court heard Daniel Ward hit Casey with a knife handle before the two brothers fought with him in the garden of the family's home on Rosgill Drive, Seacroft.
Casey, who had taken a "toxic level of amphetamine" was found with a fatal head injury and was pronounced dead by paramedics outside the house just before 5.30pm on New Year's Day
The charges were dropped at a hearing at Leeds Crown Court in April.
A reporting restriction was imposed at the time until after the trial of defendants also accused being involved in the robbery.
Two men, Aaron Tinker and John Rowley, were jailed today after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery and possession of an imitation firearm.
Tinker was given a 14-year sentence and Rowley was locked up for 12 years.
Jurors heard how Rowley and Casey were armed with a fake handgun when they burst into the house in order to rob the family of £20,000.
Tinker helped plan the raid in which took place in front of children and the imitation weapon was held against Wards' mother's head.
The court heard in April how Casey suffered from a number of medical conditions, including a throat problem and a heart condition.
A post mortem identified a number of potential causes of death, including blunt force head injury and cardiac related death.
The court was told the question of force used by a householder to protect himself or others from an armed intruder was not a factor because the cause of death was uncertain.
Prosecutor, Peter Moulson, said just after 4.30pm on January 1, Casey and another man tried to rob members of the Ward family at gunpoint at their home on Rosgill Drive.
Mr Moulson said: "During the course of that robbery the deceased held a gun to the head of the mother and to the head of the 75-year-old father of the two defendants.
"The production of that pistol, held as it was to the temple area of both parents, was accompanied by threats to hand over money.
"Both defendants were in the property at the time and obviously tried to protect their parents.
"The younger of the two defendants (Daniel Ward) obtained a knife, but did not use the blade, only the handle to strike the deceased.
"The deceased then left then house chased by the two defendants, who then fought with him in the garden of their home.
"Mr Casey died at the scene and the defendants were arrested and charged with murder on the basis of statements given by eyewitnesses and some CCTV evidence.
"Both defendants gave full accounts in interview with the police, essentially contending they had acted in lawful self defence and or defence of others in the altercation which began inside
their home and then continued outside in the garden of the premises."
Mr Moulson added: "Mr Casey has very significant previous convictions for a range of offences including serious violence.
"It is of note that Mr Casey was found to have a number of pre-existing medical conditions, principally a throat and heart condition and he also had a taken toxic level of amphetamine
before he took part in this planned armed robbery."
Mr Moulson said pathologist Dr Kirsten Hope conducted a post mortem and produced a report on her findings along with those of a neuropathologist and a heart surgeon.
Mr Moulson said potential causes of death identified were blunt force head injury alone; blunt force head injury in association with throat disease; cardiac-related death due to heart disease in the context of emotional stress, potential cardiac arrhythmia associated with amphetamine use, head injury; restraint in isolation or restraint combined with all other factors identified.
Mr Mouslon said: "In short, on the available medical evidence, the prosecution cannot prove how Mr Casey died.
"Even if one of the causes of death was blunt force trauma, we cannot in any event isolate the infliction of that trauma to a particular individual or act, or establish that at the time then blunt force was used it was in any way unlawful.
"However, we stress that the question of force used by a householder to protect himself or others from an armed intruder does not arise in this case, as the cause of death is uncertain."
Judge Geoffrey Marson QC told the court: "I direct formal verdicts of not guilty in relation to Ian and Daniel Ward."
Detective Superintendent Nicola Bryar, of West Yorkshire Police Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, said today: “Rowley and Tinker have been convicted over their involvement in the armed robbery that led to the death of Mark Casey.
“Two men were previously charged in relation to his death but those proceedings were later discontinued by the Crown Prosecution Service after further medical evidence meant there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction.
“The situation in which he died only came about because he and those convicted had planned a gunpoint robbery at this address. This case is a stark reminder of the very serious consequences that can result from the dangerous situations people create when they set out to commit crimes such as this.”