Teenager held for harassment death made denial online

Residents in Greater Manchester tell how David Askew had been tormented for more than 10 years by youths
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The Independent Online

The teenager arrested on suspicion of manslaughter following the death of tormented pensioner David Askew has denied any knowledge of the incident on Facebook.

Mr Askew, a 64-year-old with a mental age of 10, collapsed and died on Wednesday evening minutes after two youths had been filmed on CCTV entering his garden in Hattersley, Greater Manchester. It is thought that he suffered a heart attack but yesterday the result of a post mortem proved inconclusive.

Neighbours said the pensioner had been harassed daily by local youths, who would knock at his door and ask for cigarettes, for more than a decade.

On Thursday evening, 18-year-old Kial Cottingham was arrested by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) on suspicion of manslaughter.

Hours before his arrest Cottingham denied being involved. He wrote: "It bangerz wat appened 2 dave *people better stop throwin my name bout cos it fck all 2 do wit me!!!!!" His comments were responded to by online "friends". Sonja Hilton wrote: "lets not 4get all the other twats that played their part in it all over the years! Theres 50 kids or more that are responsible 4 that mans death NOT 1!"

Yesterday residents told of the extent of the abuse suffered by Mr Askew, who lived with his brother Brian and their mother Rose, 89.

Lynne Barker, 47, spoke of "kids as young as six banging on his windows and threatening him for cigarettes. They see it as a bit of fun." She added: "People said the solution was for the family to move out but why should they move out of their own house?"

Police confirmed that Mr Askew's mother had complained about the abuse her son received 10 times in the past year. Neighbours claimed the attacks were daily, but few appeared to have complained to the police. Mrs Barker added: "I think people should have done more."

At the local chip shop a notice has been put on the counter asking for donations to be made for "poor Dave's send-off". Outside, a 17-year-old boy, who asked not to be named, said: "They said on the news that David had been tormented for 17 years, but I know it has been going on much longer than that. The kids who pick on him now are just doing what their mums and dads were doing before then, when they were younger."

Police confirmed that 55 anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos) are in place against youths on the estate. One of them, Ben Kidd, was given an Asbo two years ago for, among other things, terrorising the Askew family. Meanwhile GMP's Chief Constable Peter Fahy was forced to clarify comments he made suggesting that Tameside Council had delayed in rehousing the Askew family. It later emerged that the family had declined to leave the estate in spite of the abuse.

Last night, an 18-year-old man was charged with the harassment of Mr Askew and was remanded in custody. He is due appear before Tameside magistrates' court today.