A burglar will be jailed for life today for murdering a dad-of-three who confronted him as he tried to steal his Range Rover.
David Matthew Sindall, aged 34, attacked Dean Armitage on the driveway of his home. There were cries of ‘yes’ at Sheffield Crown Court, and Dean’s family and friends wept, as the jury returned their unanimous verdict yesterday afternoon.
Sindall showed no emotion.
Dean died from a ‘complex of skull fractures’ after a struggle between he and Sindall caused him to fall back and hit his head on his garden wall or the ground.
Sindall, who had already used a torch to smack the 49-year-old married father of two daughters and a son, delivered further blows as Dean lay unconscious.
In a statement the Armitage family said yesterday: “Words cannot begin to describe the suffering and pain we are still feeling. We will never be able to get over the loss of Dean. He was a loving husband and dad, providing for his family and working hard to ensure we never went without. We can still not believe he will never walk through the door again.
“The loss and emptiness we have in our hearts is a feeling we can never imagine will ever be filled, and not a day goes by without thinking of Dean and how much we all love and miss him.”
The whole scene was witnessed by neighbour Trevor Thornton, who gave evidence in court.
Speaking after the hearing, Det Insp Kevin Brown from South Yorkshire Police told The Star: “I am really pleased with the verdict. This case has been heartbreaking and devastating for the family.
“Mr Armitage was a hard working, caring and honest man. While trying to protect his family and his home, he tragically lost his life at the hands of Sindall.
“It was a difficult case that involved a lot of experts giving their opinions on the cause of the injuries.
“I would also like to thank Mr Thornton, Mr Armitage’s neighbour. Without his witness evidence I don’t think this case would have got as far as it did.
“I’d also like to thank the family for their patience and dignity throughout a difficult eight months and the harrowing ordeal of a trial.
“Sindall tried to adapt his claims to suit the evidence put to the court. He has put the family through a traumatic ordeal, along with his own mother, who has had to sit through the trial as well.”
Sindall will be sentenced today - though the mandatory sentence for murder is life in prison.
He had been out drinking last July 20 when he decided to go stealing in the early hours. He got into the Armitage family’s home on Skiers View Road, Hoyland, Barnsley, through an unlocked door and stole the car keys, along with a handbag and shopping.
Prosecutor Graham Reeds QC said as he started the engine the sound alerted Betsy Rapson, the girlfriend of Dean’s son Josh, and she woke Dean.
Sindall was sitting in the driver’s seat trying to put the car into ‘drive’ when he was confronted by Dean in his underwear.
Dean died in the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield three weeks later, having never regained consciousness.
Sindall, of Selbourne Street, Eastwood, Rotherham, initially told police he’d just been walking past the house when he saw the car door open, the keys in the ignition and the shopping bags on the ground.
He later changed his story, telling the jury he had burgled the house and intended to steal the car.
But he denied intending to hurt Dean and said he’d pushed him only once, in self defence.