Wakefield boxing legend's son jailed for ex-cop murder

A Yorkshire boxing legend's son who brutally murdered an ex policeman during a botched armed robbery has been jailed indefinitely.

A Leeds Crown Court judge told masked raider Michael Sharp, 25, he must serve a minimum 27 years for killing David Ward, 38, during a raid at the former West Yorkshire officer's home on Denby Dale Road, Wakefield.

Sharp's father is late heavyweight boxing legend Paul Sykes who narrowly lost to John L Gardiner in a 1979 British and Commonwealth fight at Wembley.

Sharp, of Queens Drive, Ossett, led a gang who broke into Mr Ward's home armed with a knuckleduster, claw hammer and screwdriver in the early hours of January 23, after learning he was "loaded" with up to 20,000 in a safe.

Sharp punched his victim in the face with a knuckleduster and got him in a martial arts style headlock and, helped by Ryan Hill, tied his hands and feet with belts as Mr Ward lay unconscious but still breathing.

Sharp and Hill fled as Mr Ward lay dying from compression of the neck.

Jailing Sharp for life for murder and ordering him to be detained indefinitely for the public protection for conspiracy to rob, Mr Justice Wilkie told him: "In order to persuade him (Mr Ward) to disclose the whereabouts of his safe key you subjected him to such a degree of violence that he died."

Mr Justice Wilkie branded Ryan Hill, 29, of Fernleigh Court, Lupset, a "dangerous offender."

He jailed Hill indefinitely for the public protection for manslaughter and told him it will be eight-and-a-half years before he can apply for parole.

A third gang member Christopher Gill, 27, who acted as a driver and lookout was jailed for nine years.

Gill, of Fulwood Grove, Kettlethorpe, had admitted conspiracy to rob.

The robbery was plotted after Mr Ward's ex lover Stacey Foster, 23, of East Grange Road, Leeds, slept with Sharp and told him about the amount of cash car dealer Mr Ward kept at his home.

Foster, who had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob, was jailed for six years and eight months.

Sharp had admitted conspiracy to rob. He denied murder but was convicted last Friday after a two week trial.

Hill was cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter and conspiracy to rob.

Sharp is the second of boxer Paul Sykes's sons to be jailed for life for murder.

Paul Leighton Sykes is serving a life sentence for stabbing Michael Gallagher to death in a frenzied knife attack at his victim's flat in Lupset, Wakefield in June 2004.

Paul Sykes snr, who died last year, earned a notorious reputation in his home city of Wakefield after his boxing career ended in 1980.

He went on a downward spiral of alcohol abuse, petty robberies, violent crime and spent more than 20 years in prison.

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