Death fall van thief gets cut in sentence
ATHIEF jailed for the killing of a small businessman who fell from his van as it was stolen has had his jail term cut.
James Ray was found with serious head injuries at the Plantation Industrial Estate in Ashton-under-Lyne nearly two years ago.
The exact circumstances of his death have never been established but a Manchester Crown Court manslaughter trial was told it was likely he had fallen from his vehicle as thieves tried to take it.
Mr Ray had been delivering a tonne of detergent from his family firm, unloading 25kg bags one by one from his vehicle, when it was driven away at high speed by two men, the court heard.
He died in hospital the following day - on his 70th birthday.
Martin Patrick Ward Jnr, 25, of Royds Street in Rochdale, was convicted of manslaughter and aggravated vehicle taking and jailed alongside two accomplices in the trial last December. Ward Jnr had pleaded guilty to a third charge of conspiracy to steal, and got a total sentence of 13 years.
Now, the sentence has been cut by six months after Ward Jnr’s lawyer, Stuart Kaufman, argued at the Court of Appeal that he had not been credited for the guilty plea he entered to the conspiracy charge.
Ward Jnr’s father, Martin Ward Snr, 46, of Claybank Street, Heywood, who was not involved in the killing, was convicted of conspiracy to steal in the trial and got five years.
Mr Justice Fraser said Ward Jnr had played an ‘instrumental and leading part’ in the plot – but said his guilty plea was an ‘important point of distinction’ between him and his father and ‘ought to have been taken into account’.
Between July and November 2015 the father and son were involved in a plot to steal items including vehicles, tools, cash and electronic devices.
There were at least 23 incidents of theft or attempted theft, and stolen items were valued at over £220,000.
Ward Snr would purchase used cars for cash to be used in thefts and burglaries, and these cars would be used to drive other conspirators to where vehicles would be stolen.
Ward Jnr had 19 previous convictions for 42 offences, including 21 thefts or similar crimes.
Two other men - Patrick John McDonagh, 21, of The Cray, Milnrow, and Patrick Joseph Cawley, 23, of Orchard Crescent, Chadderton - are serving eight years and four months and seven years for their involvement in the death of Mr Ray.
●●Martin Patrick Ward Jnr