Murdered pensioner ‘stabbed 69 times as couple robbed his home to pay off Sheffield drug dealer’

John Gogarty
John Gogarty
  • Knife blows struck with ‘severe force’ as victim lay helpless on floor
  • Couple alleged to have taken money to pay off Sheffield drugs dealer
  • Clothes and weapon burnt in woodland after attack
  • Prosecution say evidence suggests attackers stole a bottle of champagne and drank it after killing
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A South Yorkshire pensioner was stabbed 69 times in his own home as a couple robbed him to pay off a £500 drugs debt, a court heard.

Property developer John Gogarty, 65, died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the attack at his home in Marsh Street, Wombwell on the evening of July 13 this year.

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

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

A jury at Sheffield Crown Court heard Mr Gogarty’s body was discovered four days later by his son John Jr, who found his father ‘lying on the floor covered in blood’.

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

Opening the case, prosecutor Graham Reeds QC said Birley had owed £500 to a Sheffield drugs dealer called Ian Neish and had spoken in the days before the attack of a plan to rob ‘Irish Paddy’, as Mr Gogarty was known to some people due to him originally being born in Ireland.

Mr Reeds said Mr Gogarty was known locally ‘as a man who was financially comfortable and who had been known to carry large amounts of cash’.

He said forensic evidence indicated that the attack had started inside the front door before he fell to his knees and then on to his side.

He said Mr Gogarty was stabbed 69 times, with ‘numerous’ stab wounds inflicted while Mr Gogarty was lying on the floor.

The majority of blows were inflicted to his torso ‘using severe force’. The court heard Mr Gogarty suffered extensive damage to his lungs, heart, stomach and lover, while some of the blows ‘cut through the bone of the ribs’.

Mr Reeds said the attack began shortly after 6.43pm and a woman, later identified to be Nichols, used his card to withdraw £500 from a nearby cash machine at 6.53pm.

He said Nichols had admitted she went to the house with Birley as part of a plan to rob Mr Gogarty and Birley had stabbed the 65-year-old to force him to hand over his cash card and reveal his PIN number.

Nichols returned to the house with the money, where she said she found Birley stabbing Mr Gogarty to death.

It is her case that she played no part in the killing, while Birley denies any involvement in the events.

Mr Reeds said the prosecution case is that the two defendants ‘were in it together’.

He said: “Each played their part in the attack to force him to hand over his card and reveal his PIN, then taking money from his account in accordance with the plan and then murdering him so that he could never tell anyone what they had done.”

After Mr Gogarty was stabbed to death, Mr Reeds said ‘two or three watches’ were stolen from his home - with one later recovered from the home of the Sheffield drug dealer Birley owed money to.

Following the attack, the clothes and shoes worn by Birley and Nichols, along with the knife used, were burnt in woodland close to their flat.

Mr Reeds said Mr Gogarty had a bar in his property, which contained a number of bottles of Bollinger champagne.

He said there was evidence that the couple may have taken one of the bottles back to their flat and drank it following the killing.

Mr Reeds said: “It is reasonable to ask the question whether or not Mr Gogarty’s champagne ended up being drunk at Mont Walk by the person or people who had killed him.”

The trial continues.