Mother and son jailed for 57 years for 'truly wicked' murder of South Yorkshire man killed over land feud
A mother and son have been jailed for life, to serve a combined minimum term of 57 years, for the ‘truly wicked’ murder of a South Yorkshire man they pursued a vendetta against for running on their land.
As he sent Carol Dawson and Scott Dawson to begin life sentences for the murder of Gary Dean, The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC said the pair killed the 48-year-old because they were ‘filled with venom and a desire for revenge’.
Mr Dean’s body was found on land near to his home in Silkstone Common, Barnsley on September 6 last year.
A jury found the Dawsons unanimously guilty of Mr Dean’s murder on Friday, following a five-week trial at Sheffield Crown Court.
“The murder of Gary Dean was executed with brutal determination. Furthermore it had been planned. Gary Dean suffered terribly in the last few minutes of his life as he was savagely beaten and shot with an air rifle. I have no doubt you both intended he be killed,” said Judge Richardson.
He added: “Your conduct may only be characterised as deeply malevolent. It was truly wicked and cruel in its execution.”
Judge Richardson said the pair pursued a ‘venomous campaign’ against Mr Dean, after he ‘aggravated’ them by running across a £300,000 plot of land, near to Mr Dean’s home, that Scott had bought with some inheritance money.
He said: “It is right to observe that there was – and is – a public right of way across your land. It is clear from the evidence that you, Scott Dawson, reacted very adversely to anyone going across your land if they strayed, however inadvertently from the footpath.”
The court was told that the defendants’ malicious campaign against Mr Dean, who suffered from autism, amounted to spreading ‘truly unpleasant rumours and starting a process of targeted intimidation’.
Following repeated complaints made by both defendants, the police attempted to prosecute Mr Dean at Barnsley Magistrates’ Court, was but he was acquitted.
The court did, however, grant the Dawsons a restraining order against Mr Dean.
“It appeared to you both that all the previous aspects of your venomous campaign were not working as you wished. Gary Dean was carrying on as he had before. He had to be removed.
“You both fed off the venom within each other. This toxic admixture led to murder,” said Judge Richardson.
Mr Dean started a fire in a forested area adjacent to the plot of land owned by Scott on September 5.
This is believed to have been the catalyst for the murder, which was carried out the following day.
After Mr Dean’s wife, Caroline, left for work the next morning, the defendants waited for Mr Dean to stray on to his land during his normal morning run.
He was fatally attacked after running on to the land.
“It was you, Scott Dawson, who took the leading role as the executioner of the plot. By taking a powerful air rifle, and arming yourself with a pole, the intention to kill Gary Dean is plain and obvious,” Judge Richardson said.
He added: “It was you, Carol Dawson, who materially assisted by being a party to the plot and actively participating on the day before, during and after the killing.
“It is clear that you, Scott Dawson, brutally attacked Gary Dean. I have no doubt that you intended to kill him. The ferocity and manner of the attack – as revealed by the post-mortem evidence of the pathologist admits no other explanation.”
Defending Scott, John Ryder QC acknowledged that the starting point for the minimum term his client should serve could be fixed at 30 years, due to the use of a firearm.
He said an air rifle was not the type of firearm that is ‘usually’ used to commit a murder, arguing that the 30-year minimum term is more appropriate for shot guns or hand guns because of the use of such weapons often has ‘lethal’ consequences.
Alan Kent QC, representing Carol, said should Judge Richardson take view that Carol was physically involved in the murder that he could justify setting her minimum term at 30 years.
He argued that should Judge Richardson believe her involvement was limited to acting as look-out, her minimum term should be reduced to 15 years.
This was rejected by Judge Richardson, who said that while he did not believe Carol was involved in the murder, she knew ‘exactly what was planned’.
“You intentionally participated in a material way by offering assistance and help to your son to execute the plan that you hatched with him. You knew of the level of violence that was to be visited upon Gary Dean,” said Judge Richardson.
Judge Richardson jailed both defendants for life, sentencing Scott to a minimum term of 31 years and Carol to a minimum term of 26 years.
He told them: “I have no doubt at all that Gary Dean suffered a cruel and vicious death. He was brutally attacked in the field. He managed to crawl into and along the ditch to try to escape. He was then further attacked and brutally killed in that ditch in the forested area. In consequence, he endured both the mental and physical suffering and you pursued and prolonged the attack.”