Preston man accused of murder hit dad-to-be with crowbar, court hears

A dad-to-be suffered a fatal blow to the head with a crowbar inflicted by a Preston man whose brother was chasing him for a debt, a murder trial heard.

Thursday, 27th June 2019, 8:12 am
Updated Thursday, 27th June 2019, 9:12 am
Billy Livesley

Billy Livesley was chatting in a car park on Bickershaw Lane, Abram, Wigan, when the siblings drove past and had a “chance sighting” of him.

Peter Connor, 32, demanded money and ran after him, before his brother David Myles Connors, 24, struck him on the head, a Manchester Crown Court jury was told.

Connor, of no fixed address, and Connors, of Layton Street Caravan Park, Layton Road, Preston, both deny murder.

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Paul Reid QC opened the prosecution case yesterday into what happened on December 28.

He said Connors arrived at the Triangle snooker club in Abram in a Ford Transit Connect van with Jimmy Price, Christopher Price and Kevin Shaw at 9pm that day.

They spoke to James Connor - the defendants’ brother - and left just three minutes later.

They went to pick up Peter Connor at Bryn Gates Lane Caravan Park, off Bolton Road, Bamfurlong, where he lived.

They were then heading to the Bickershaw Lane caravan site where Connors lived when they saw 21-year-old Billy on the car park.

He had arrived there at 9.20pm to meet John “Leggy” Pownall, after receiving a phone call saying he “wanted his £80 back”.

Billy travelled there with his girlfriend Leah Galvin and friend Dillon Bland and when Mr Pownall arrived, he got out of the car and they had a conversation.

But Mr Reid said the two men were spotted by Connor as the van was travelling past. He got “very annoyed” and shouted: “He’s dead! He’s dead!”

Connor told driver Jimmy Price to turn the van around and he went into the car park, stopping behind Mr Pownall’s car and blocking the entrance.

Mr Reid said: “Leah Galvin saw Peter ‘Ricky’ Connor jump out of the van and advance towards Billy Livesley as if he were going to attack him.”

She heard Connor ask where his money was and Billy backed away, before trying to flee.

Connor chased him and as he ran past the van, Connors got out and hit him with a weapon, the jury heard.

Christopher Price, a cousin of the brothers, said Connors had a small black crowbar, while Ms Galvin thought at the time it was a big knife.

Mr Reid said: “Suddenly Leah Galvin could not see Billy Livesley any longer. She got out of the car. She heard David Connors say, ‘I’ve killed him, I’ve killed him’,”

The defendants and Jimmy Price got back in the van and drove away.

Christopher Price heard Connor say Billy was dead and Connors was crying, saying he had killed him, the court heard.

The van went to the caravan site on Bickershaw Lane at 9.20pm, where Connor got into a Vauxhall Combo van and drove back to the car park alone.

Mr Reid said: “Back at the Bickershaw Lane car park, Leah Galvin and Dillon Bland had found Billy Livesley lying on the ground, bleeding from his head. John ‘Leggy’ Pownall put him in the recovery position and told Dillon Bland to call an ambulance, but John Pownall was telling Dillon Bland to say nothing, to keep their mouths shut and to say that Billy had fallen.

“Leah Galvin describes Billy Livesley lying face down ‘covered in blood’.”

Connor returned to the car park, told them to make sure Billy did not swallow his tongue and threatened Ms Galvin, saying the “same is going to happen to her” if anyone found out what had happened.

She was initially “too frightened” to tell paramedics or police what had happened, Mr Reid said. Mr Bland told the 999 operator Billy had been assaulted, but was discouraged from repeating this by Mr Pownall and gave a false name.

The court heard Mr Bland also called a friend Andy Naylor, who went to the car park with three other men, and a scuffle broke out as Mr Naylor did not believe Mr Bland was telling the truth about what happened to Billy.

Paramedics arrived at 9.29pm and Billy was taken to Salford Royal Hospital.

He had suffered a “non-survivable brain injury” and was pronounced dead at 5.30pm the following day, with his life support machine switched off later with his family around him.

A post-mortem examination showed the cause of death was a head injury.

Mr Reid said the weapon used by Connors had never been recovered. The pathologist thought Billy’s injury could have been caused by a number of relatively blunt instruments, such as a spike, a heavy screwdriver or a crowbar.

After the attack, the Ford Transit Connect van was driven to the Bickershaw Lane caravan site and left at 9.27pm, before being abandoned on Belmont Avenue at 9.30pm.

Mr Reid said CCTV footage showed three people leaving on foot, with another walking away six minutes later, shielding his face and breaking into a run. Connor went to the Triangle Club at 9.29pm and spoke to his brother James, before returning to his caravan site at 9.40pm.

He left at 9.44pm with girlfriend Lucy Jolley, travelled to Blackpool and then checked into the Holiday Inn Express in Preston at 11.40pm before checking out just after midnight.

The hearing was told Connors travelled to Skelmersdale in a Vauxhall Astra belonging to his girlfriend June Turner.

The court heard Connor was arrested on suspicion of murder on January 2 and Connors on January 13, with both giving “no comment” replies during interviews.

Mr Reid told the jury: “Although the fatal blow to Billy Livesley’s head was struck by David Connors, the prosecution say that both he and his brother Peter Connor are guilty of murder. The prosecution say that both men took part in the attack. It was initiated by Peter Connor who pursued Billy Livesley, but was joined in by David Connors when he got out of the van carrying the weapon.

“The prosecution say that each of them took part in the attack with the intention of either killing Billy Livesley or at least causing Billy Livesley really serious harm.”

He said Connors was expected to say he acted in self-dence, while Connor’s case is that he did not attempt to assault Billy or assist or encourage his brother to do so.