Gary Dean, aged 48, was found with significant injuries in a wooded area behind Moorend Lane, Silkstone Common, close to where he lived, at around 5.40pm on Thursday, September 6 last year.
Scott Dawson, aged 41, of Allotts Court, Barnsley, and Carol Dawson, aged 71, of Stonewood Grove, Barnsley, were charged with his murder on February 15, 2019.
At the opening of their trial for murder at Sheffield Crown Court today, Peter Moulson QC set out the prosecution’s case to the jury of seven men and five women.
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The court heard how a long standing dispute had arisen between Mr Dean and Scott Dawson over the victim’s use of a footpath which ran across Mr Dawson’s land.
The unemployed Mr Dean would regularly walk, cycle and run across the land - which Mr Dawson had bought some years earlier for £300,000 - using a public right of way.
“Scott and Carol Dawson pursued a vendetta against Gary Dean who they accused of causing problems on their land,” said Mr Moulson.
A sign reading ‘stay away’ had been posted on a stile which led to the land and similar messages had been written on Mr Dean’s house and car along with the word ‘paedo’, said Mr Moulson.
Mr Dean had appeared before Barnsley Magistrates’ Court in connection with the ongoing dispute and was subject to a restraining order instructing him to stay away from the Dawsons, but had no criminal convictions of any kind.
On the morning of the murder, Mr Moulson alleged Carol Dawson acted as a ‘lookout’, waiting in a layby off House Carr Lane for Mr Dean’s wife Caroline to leave for work shortly before 7am.
The prosecution say the Dawsons then brutally attacked Mr Dean as he strayed onto their land, shooting him in the back with an air rifle and hitting him with the same weapon before striking him with a rock and heavy branches.
The accused had hoped to return to the scene later in the day to dispose of Mr Dean’s body with a JCB they owned, said Mr Moulson, but were thwarted when a walker discovered him that afternoon.
Both defendants deny any involvement at all in Mr Dean’s death.
The trial will hear evidence of internet searches on Scott Dawson’s partner’s mobile phone for air rifle sales in the weeks before the murder as well as texts between the couple which indicate they were well aware of Mr Dean’s morning routine.
And it will also hear recordings of Scott and Carol Dawson’s calls to the police in the days which led up to the attack, during which they harangue them for their failure to act.
On one call, Scott Dawson said: “You lot are useless. You will be here as I will be ripping him in half.”
On another, Carol Dawson said: “He is getting away with murder. Somebody is going to end up getting killed.”
Mr Moulson finally turned to the discovery of Mr Dean’s wedding ring, which - unless it was missed by police - could only have been planted next to where his body was found the day after forensic officers conducted a fingertip search of the area.
“The placement of the ring in that place means that we can remove from our considerations those interests of robbery,” he said.
“To return property that could be sold points towards those with a different motive, maybe that Gary Dean ‘stay away’ for good.”
The case continues.