How New Year’s Day Leeds armed raid which left one robber dead and two victims charged with murder was ‘talk of the town’ in Seacroft

PIC: James Hardisty
PIC: James Hardisty

The death of Mark Casey during an armed robbery at the family home on Rosgill Drive was ‘the talk of the town’ which stunned the Seacroft community.

A New Year’s Day plot was hatched in a local pub to carry out the violent raid in order to pay for alcohol and cocaine.

Aaron Tinker.

Aaron Tinker.

It ended with one of the 50-year-old perpetrators dead in the street and two brothers who fought to save their parents being charged with murder.

In the chaotic aftermath, shocked residents on the Seacroft estate gathered at the scene as the police helicopter hovered above.

READ MORE: Charges dropped against brothers accused of murdering drug-fuelled robber who held gun to their mum’s head

Prosecutor Soheil Khan, said: “This was a violent and planned confrontation on a home which resulted in a public death of one of the perpetrators when one of the occupants of the house responded.

John Rowley.

John Rowley.

“The death of Mr Casey and the robbery was the talk of the town and was being discussed in the community and on social media.”

Jurors heard how Casey and Rowley, his face covered with a balaclava fashioned from a t-shirt, burst into the home of Bob Ward and Elisabeth Dimmock with a plan to rob them of £20,000 of savings.

Mr Ward, 70, was recovering from heart surgery at the time.

Four of the couple’s children, including Daniel and Ian Ward, were also at the property.

Mr Khan said: “A 999 call was received by the emergency operators from Elisabeth Dimmock on the afternoon of New Year’s Day.

“She described that a man had just come into her bedroom, pointed a gun at her head and grabbed her hair.

“She also said that she had children in the house.

“She further described that she had been at home sorting Christmas gifts out when a man just came into her room and demanded money.

“She thought she was going to die. She described that her sons had chased him out.

“Elisabeth’s husband Bob Ward made a similar 999 call in which he described that two men had come into the house.

“He described that one of the men had run off and that he had a gun held to his head by the men.”

The court heard Mr Ward was pulled off the sofa and taken upstairs by one of the robbers who said: “Get the money, get the money.”

Mrs Dimmock had a black handgun held to her head, was grabbed by the hair and was ordered to hand over cash.

Mr Khan said: “Afraid for her life, she thought she should give him some money.

“She said he didn’t need to shoot her, that he could calm down, and she would give him the money.

“The next thing she heard was her son’s voice, and the man was gone.

“She closed her door, in a frozen state, but did hear her son saying ‘don’t you point a gun to my dad’s head’ and something about there being children in the house.”

Mr Khan said Daniel Ward was in his bedroom with his girlfriend Eloise McGann at the time of the robbery.

The prosecutor said: “(Daniel) heard his mum screaming and his brother Ian shouting ‘get off my mum’.

“Daniel then opened his door and noticed that the man had a gun. He then went out, leaving Eloise in the room.

“When she came out some minutes later she saw Elisabeth, who then called the police.

“Everyone was then out on the street, shouting and screaming in a state of panic.

“Eloise rang the police and gave her phone to Elisabeth so she could speak to the police.

“Eloise started to get some clothes, by which stage Daniel came upstairs with a gun wrapped in a towel.

“Eloise then went outside having picked up some scissors to defend herself.

“She went up to Ian who was restraining the man on the ground, and Daniel was on the phone to the police.”

Casey’s phone fell out of his pocket during the struggle.

The court heard Daniel took the phone and challenged whoever was on the other end about why the man had come to their house.

Mr Khan said: “That call was terminated but the phone rang again.

“Daniel challenged the caller again. There were more calls to the number, including from a female.

“The police then arrived and arrested Ian from the scene.”

Rowley, 33, known as ‘Bugsy’, denied any involvement in the robbery at trial.

He was linked to the raid by forensic evidence.

His DNA was found on the t-shirt which had been used to cover his face and his footprints were on the landing of the house on Rosgill Drive

Police also obtained CCTV footage of those involved in the robbery conspiracy meeting at the Cricketers Arms pub in Seacroft.

The court was also shown footage of a van used in the robbery making a “reconnaissance trip” shortly before the attack.

Tinker did not take part in the robbery but was found guilty after the jury were told how he “recruited” Rowley and planned the offence.

His DNA was found on the grips of the imitation handgun along with Casey’s.

Mr Khan said: “Mr Tinker remained at the Cricketers Arms, in wait you might think in due course, to receive the spoils no doubt. But what was spoilt was their plan.”

Rowley has 28 previous criminal convictions and has served jailed sentences for robbery.

He was out of prison on licence at the time of the robbery.

Tinker has a criminal record dating to back to 1999 when he was a youth.

He has two previous convictions for robbery.

A victim statement was read to the court on behalf of Mrs Dimmock, describing the trauma the incident had caused her family.

She said: “Most nights I lie awake thinking of what might have happened.

“Things have got a lot worse since January 1, 2018.

“I should feel safe in my home and in my bedroom.

“But the events of that night will remain with me for ever.

“I fear what would have happened had my sons not been at home.

“Daniel and Ian managed to detain one of the men who unfortunately died and they had to put up with the trauma of being arrested on suspicion of his death.

“They have no idea of the pain and suffering they have caused.”

Sentencing the pair, Judge Mushtaq Khokhar said: “The Seacroft estate is a small community and a close-knit one.

“Everybody was out in the street to find out what was going on.

“It was a community event which must have affected the community at large.”