A gang of travellers who beat a man to death believed they were “untouchable”, a senior policeman said today.
Sidney Cox was left dying after he was beaten and stabbed after a stolen recovery truck smashed through the gates at Thorpe Court, Thorpe, near Middleton, Leeds. The gang of masked men from the travelling community armed with machetes, spades and other weapons attacked the 57-year-old.
The details of the death of Mr Cox and the conviction of two men for his murder can be reported for the first time after restrictions were lifted on a related case at Leeds Crown Court.
Brothers Ambrose Dear, 40 and Michael Dear, 39, were each convicted by a jury after a trial earlier this year of murdering Mr Cox and conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm to another man Benjamin Reynolds.
They were each sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 18 years in custody minus time on remand.
Two other men, John Nicholson 24, and Karl Gaskin, 41, were convicted on the conspiracy charge. Gaskin, was jailed for 10 years with an extended five year licence and Nicholson jailed for seven years.
The earlier trial heard the gang had targeted Mr Reynolds’ address following an incident at a fair.
Mr Cox was attacked despite the fact he had nothing to do with the dispute and was not a member of the Reynolds family.
Mr Reynolds managed to get away from the incident and drove to Holbeck Police station to report it.
Mr Cox suffered multiple rib fractures, tears to his liver, damage to his lungs and bleeding on the brain.
He died later from the combined effect of his injuries.
The court heard the attackers caused “mayhem” inflicting substantial damage to other vehicles in the courtyard and breaking windows, .
The judge said the Dear brothers, of Hobby’s Paddock, Doncaster, were being sentenced for encouraging others to violence.
Det Sup Jon Morgan from West Yorkshire Police said: “Mr Cox was brutally attacked and left for dead when a dispute he had absolutely nothing to do with exploded into completely unnecessary violence.
“He was attacked purely because he was the only man around when this group arrived at the farm intent on vengeance following an earlier fallout.
“They like to think of themselves as untouchable but this case should clearly demonstrate that no-one is above the law.
“Mr Cox’s family have been left devastated by his death.”
FIVE TO BE SENTENCED
Seven men were due to stand trial also accused of murder but the prosecution accepted pleas of guilty from five of them on the conspiracy charge.
Hannibal Riley, 35 of Barnaby Dun Road, Doncaster; Robert Gaskin, 37 of Stocksbridge Lane, Bentley; Larry Gaskin, 19 of Cleveland Road, Armthorpe; Patrick Stewart, 32 of Heath Common, Doncaster Road, Wakefield, and Reynolds Tunney, 53 of Mill Lane, Brigg, will be sentenced today.
A 17-year-old, who cannot be named, and Tommy Tunney, 32 of Outgang Lane, Osbaldwick were acquitted.