Vulnerable man 'unlawfully killed'

 

A vulnerable man who died after suffering 30 years of torment by yobs was unlawfully killed, a coroner ruled today.

David Askew, 64, who had a mental age of 10, was plagued by gangs of youths for decades outside his house on a sprawling council estate in Hattersley, east Manchester.

Today John Pollard, coroner for South Manchester, blamed "feral youths" for the victim's torment and ruled that despite lawyers deciding no one could be charged with manslaughter, Mr Askew had been unlawfully killed.

Mr Askew lived with his brother, who also had learning difficulties, and elderly mother Rose, 90, who told the inquest into her son's death of the constant harassment from youngsters.

They called police 88 times between January 2004 and March last year before Mr Askew, who suffered from heart disease, collapsed and died on March 10 2010 after being pestered for cigarettes. Youths had reportedly thrown a wheelie bin around and tampered with his mother's mobility scooter.

Kial Cottingham, 19, who lived doors away later pleaded guilty to harassing Mr Askew and was jailed for 16 months last year.

Lawyers for the Crown Prosecution Service said there was no evidence to charge Cottingham with manslaughter.

Mr Pollard said the law precluded him from naming any individual or persons as responsible for causing the death.

He added: "For the last thirty years there has been harassment of this family, at times worse than other times.

"Throughout the whole (period) they have lived with anti social behaviour directed against them in a way and at a level which is, and never was, acceptable."

He said on the night Mr Askew died a youth was seen demanding cigarettes from Mr Askew, even patting him down to check.

Two youths were seen at the property again at 9.38pm and within eight to 10 minutes Mr Askew had collapsed and died.

The coroner cited the evidence of pathologist Dr Charles Wilson, who told the inquest although Mr Askew already suffered from heart disease and while it could not be scientifically proven the stress of harassment on the night he died led directly to his death, the circumstances of the case "strongly suggest" it did in his opinion.

Mr Pollard said he was "aware" of the CPS decision not to charge anyone with manslaughter but he was satisfied there was enough evidence to conclude Mr Askew was unlawfully killed.

The three-day inquest heard of a "multi-agency approach" with "partnership working" between a myriad of agencies including endless meetings between the police, Tameside Council and housing associations, among others.

But Mr Pollard said there was an "awful lot of talking taking place and not a great deal of action", and he was scathing about the work of some of the agencies involved.

He said: "I have noticed evidence of a quite staggering degree of inertia and complancy.

"The fact that there is 38 separate offences reported against this family within a three-year period shows the appalling way in which this element of feral youths can bring misery to a decent, vulnerable family."

Mr Pollard said he would be making recommendations in writing to both the chief constable of Greater Manchester Police and the chief executive of Tameside Council.

The inquest heard that only "substantive" incidents were reported to police by the family and many other "minor irritations" went unreported.

There were also some "ridiculous lengths" in terms of police response times - sometimes officers not attending at the house for up to 12 hours later.

CCTV fitted outside the house by Tameside Council was "useless" after dark.

Even on the day of Mr Askew's death, Cottingham had been at the house and his probation officer called to warn him he was breaking his community order after being seen there the day before, the inquest heard.

Cottingham, currently serving a sentence for robbery, apologised to the Askew family when he gave evidence to the inquest earlier this week.

The inquest heard Mr Askew's official cause of death was natural causes following heart disease and Cottingham could not be placed in the vicinity of the house when Mr Askew collapsed and died.

PA

News
people Biographer says cinema’s enduring sex symbol led a secret troubled life
News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

News
In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet'
scienceBut will it be reinstated?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people
News
Researchers say a diet of fatty foods could impede smell abilities
scienceMeasuring the sense may predict a person's lifespan
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Life and Style
fashionThe Secret Angels all take home huge sums - but who earns the most?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

DT Teacher - Resistant Materials

£33000 - £34000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: Technology Teacher (Resis...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission, 1st yr OTE £30-£40k : SThree:...

Middleware Support Analyst

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Senior Java Developer/Designer

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: My client are looking fo...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?