Inquest resumes into death of Barnsley man murdered by convicted killer released from prison 18 months earlier

An inquest is being held this week into the death of a Barnsley man murdered by a convicted killer 18 months after he was released from prison.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 21st March 2019, 7:17 am

John Gogarty, aged 65, was murdered at his home address in Marsh Street, Wombwell, Barnsley, in 2015.

His killer, Ian Birley, had been released from prison 18 months earlier after serving time for the murder of another pensioner in 1995.

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Birley, alongside his then-girlfriend Helen Nichols, stabbed Mr Gogarty 69 times.

They broke into the OAP’s home and demanded his PIN before stealing his wallet and carrying out the brutal attack.

They then proceeded to withdraw £500 from his bank account - which was to be used to service a drug debt Birley had incurred - before then taking a bottle of Bollinger champagne from the victim's property.

Mr Gogarty's body was found four days later by his son.

The inquest into Mr Gogarty’s death was told how Birley had previously killed a man named Maurice Hoyle in 1995 and was on licence for that offence when he committed the second murder.

He was given a whole-life jail sentence at Sheffield Crown Court in 2015, while Nichols was given a minimum 20-year term, having both been convicted of Mr Gogarty's murder.

Sheffield Coroner's Court heard how Mr Gogarty’s family had won the right to a full inquest so that certain elements of the events leading up to Birley's release from jail in 2013 could be considered.

Giving evidence, the victim's daughter, Nicola Gogarty, told the inquest: "The death has obviously devastated the whole family.

"It's been a huge trauma and of course it's been very heard to move on from it.

"In my heart I do believe that my dad would still be here had things been done."

Detective Sergeant Karen Whitehouse, of South Yorkshire Police, said the force was unaware of the killer's release and licence conditions as a probation report issued when he left prison was not logged on their systems.

But it was shown that a report from the National Probation Service had been sent to the force on December 13, 2013, detailing Birley's address, his supervision officer and his licence conditions - including one stating he should abstain from drinking alcohol.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Handley, of South Yorkshire Police and who led the investigation into Mr Gogarty’s death, said Birley had shown signs of being ‘chaotic’ in the lead-up to the killing.

Speaking about the second killing, he said: "From a previous interaction with Mr Gogarty, Mr Birley was under the impression that he was a man of some means.

"At a point in time a while after this interaction, Mr Birley, under fear of a diminishing ability to gain the income to service his debt, used the information he had previously obtained to determine that that was the best opportunity available to him."

The inquest, which is expected to last five days, continues.