Murdered in his slippers - family’s horrifying discovery of pensioner stabbed to death in his front room

John Gogarty
John Gogarty
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The family of a South Yorkshire pensioner have spoken of the heartbreaking moment they discovered him murdered in his own home.

Security-conscious John Gogarty had settled down in his slippers to watch television just moments before he was stabbed 69 times after his bank card was stolen by a man and woman.

Crime scene investigation officers at the house in Marsh Street, Wombwell where John Gogarty was murdered'Picture Dean Atkins

Crime scene investigation officers at the house in Marsh Street, Wombwell where John Gogarty was murdered'Picture Dean Atkins

Mr Gogarty’s son John Jr. and ex-partner Alison Field discovered his body four days after his murder on July 13.

The couple ran to a nearby police station after finding him lying in a foetal position covered in blood on the floor of his living room.

Ian Birley and Helen Nichols deny murdering Mr Gogarty after robbing him of £500 to pay back money Birley allegedly owed to a Sheffield drugs dealer.

In statements read to a jury at Sheffield Crown Court, John and Ms Field described their discovery of Mr Gogarty’s body at his home in Marsh Street, Wombwell, on July 17.

Members of Mr Gogarty’s family were in tears in the public gallery as parts of the evidence were read out.

John said he had gone to his father’s house in the afternoon and he did not answer the doorbell or phone calls made to his mobile or landline.

He said: “I began to feel something was wrong. I was going to leave until I noticed the garden gate was open.

“I thought this was unusual as he usually kept this closed.”

John said he noticed ‘two drops of what looked like blood’ at about knee height on the outside of the front door. He pushed it and it opened freely.

“I didn’t have to open it very far - my father’s glasses were on the floor in the corner.

“I saw my father in a heap on the floor. I shouted at him but I knew he was dead.

“He was lying in the foetal position. It looked as if he had been attacked.”

His mother Alison Field came to the house a short time later after hearing Mr Gogarty’s body had been discovered.

She said the television was still on and Mr Gogarty still had his slippers on.

Alison said: “I noticed there was a lot of blood. It looked like it was smeared on the wall.”

She said there was a trail of blood leading towards the back of the house and blood on the wall by the stairs.

They then came across a footprint which ‘looked like dried blood’ on Mr Gogarty’s bed upstairs.

She said she realised the marks on Mr Gogarty’s shirt ‘looked like stab wounds’.

“I have worked in A&E and seen these sorts of marks and wounds before.

“It was beginning to look to me that maybe he had been attacked. I said something really serious has happened – we ran to the police station.”

Police and paramedics attended the house, where Mr Gogarty was examined and found to have been stabbed ‘a minimum’ of 40 times. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The court also heard Birley had spoken to acquaintances of owing money to a Sheffield drug dealer called Tee.

Kevin Doran said Mr Birley had asked to borrow £500 from him.

“He said he owed some wrong lads some cash and if he didn’t get it they were going to sort him out,” he said.

Mr Doran said on a second occasion he had been approached by Nichols and Birley, who asked if he could give him either £50 or £20.

When he refused, Mr Doran said Birley turned to Nichols and said ‘We will have to go on the rob’.

Another witness, Paul Hackett, who lived near Birley and Nichols, said Birley had told him he had asked Mr Doran for £500 as he owed money for crack cocaine he had bought.

Mr Hackett said Birley had told him he had been threatened about his debt, with petrol cans and cigarettes being left on his doorstep as a warning.

He said Birley told him on July 16 he had been given £400 by his grandmother to help pay off the debt.

Ian Birley, 43, and Helen Nichols, 38, both of Mont Walk, Wombwell, both deny murder.

The trial continues.