Preston College student sentenced for causing death of 86-year-old pensioner Frank Fishwick

A teenager has been jailed for the manslaughter of a Preston pensioner after hitting him in the face outside his home in Fulwood.

By Matthew Calderbank
Wednesday, 16th March 2022, 2:12 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th March 2022, 2:40 pm

Mohammed Al Aaraj,19, has been sentenced to four years in a young offenders institution at Preston Crown Court today (Wednesday, March 16).

Frank Fishwick lived in a flat on the Paddock, close to Preston College, where students were often seen hanging around a stairwell.

The 86-year-old was at home on September 10 last year when a number of students, including Al Aaraj, began congregating there.

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Mohammed Al Aaraj, 19, of Sheffield Drive, Preston, was arrested and charged with manslaughter. He entered a guilty plea in December 2021 and today (Wednesday, March 16) at Preston Crown Court he was sentenced to four years in a young offenders institution

Mr Fishwick shouted out of the window telling them that it was private property and they should leave. He then left his home to speak with them, but despite his requests, they refused to leave the area.

The pensioner, frustrated with the situation, used racist language towards one of the teenagers, which he later apologised for.

It was at this point that Mohammed Al Aaraj climbed the stairs towards Mr Fishwick, where he lashed out and hit him on the nose before he and his friends ran off.

Mr Fishwick’s nose began to bleed immediately and went back inside his home to call the police. He told officers he did not wish to seek any medical attention.

Mohammed Al Aaraj, 19, has been sentenced to four years in a young offenders institution for the manslaughter of Frank Fishwick, 86, outside his home in Paddock, Fulwood

His nose continued to bleed and later that day, an ambulance was called and Mr Fishwick was taken to Royal Preston Hospital shortly after 9 pm.

He died in hospital the following morning and a post-mortem examination found the cause of death to be bleeding as a result of fractures to the nose, consistent with being assaulted.

An investigation was launched and Mohammed Al Aaraj, 19, of Sheffield Drive, Preston, was arrested and subsequently charged with manslaughter.

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Preston pensioner Frank Fishwick with one of his grandchildren

He initially denied the offence and a trial was fixed, but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was able to produce CCTV footage, eyewitness evidence and Frank’s initial account from the police officers’ body worn video.

When faced with the overwhelming strength of that evidence, the teenager pleaded guilty on December 10, 2021 and today at Preston Crown Court he was sentenced to four years in in a young offenders institution.

In a statement, Mr Fishwick’s family said: “The assault of an elderly, frail person is unconscionable. A life taken cannot be restored, nor the act of forgiveness for a violent offence be offered or given.

"The untimely death of a father, grandfather, and loved one and the manner in which it occurred has been life-changing and created a profound, indescribable sadness.

“We would like to thank the investigation team for their hard work in carrying out the investigation following the assault and untimely death.

"Immense gratitude is extended to the Family Liaison Officers who have supported us through this incredibly difficult period of our lives.

"We often take for granted the very things that deserve our gratitude, including public services.

"Having been closely involved with the police over the past months and experienced first-hand what they do, we are thankful for the services they provided and impressed by their commitment to duty.”

Paul Robinson, Senior Crown Prosecutor at CPS North West added: “This is an extremely tragic case. Frank Fishwick had simply asked the teenagers to move on, had they done so, he would still be alive today.

“Frank was frustrated and used inappropriate language that cannot be condoned, but Mohammed Al Aaraj and his friends could have simply walked away, and they chose not to.

“I hope this case will serve as a reminder that violence can have devastating consequences and that one blow is enough to take someone’s life.

“Losing Frank has been devastating for his daughter who lives abroad. Sadly, she hadn’t seen her father for some time due to the pandemic. Nothing can make up for Frank losing his life in the way he did, I hope his family can take some comfort in knowing that Al Aaraj has been brought to justice for his reckless actions that day.”

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