Death fall van thief gets cut in sen­tence

Rochdale Observer - - CHILD SEX ABUSE INQUIRY -

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

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