Duo stand accused of killing their flatmate

A Wigan man allegedly battered unconscious by two flatmates died three and a half months later, a murder trial jury heard.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 18th November 2016, 5:22 pm
Updated Monday, 21st November 2016, 1:28 pm

It is claimed that Geoffrey Cunliffe and Daniel Eckersall beat, kicked and stamped on Eric Caddick’s head.

“That was the beating that rendered Mr Caddick unconscious and was the cause of his death,” claimed Nicholas Johnson, QC, prosecuting.

Eckersall, 32, and Cunliffe, 48, both of Withington Lane, Aspull, deny murdering the 61-year-old. Eckersall also denies robbing him twice.

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Also in the dock is Gavin Jones, 48, of Lancaster Road, Wigan, who denies the earlier robbery in which £50 was taken.

Mr Johnson said Eckersall’s ex-wife Natalie saw at first hand how he would control Mr Caddick, who was alcohol-dependent.

He would allegedly get him to spend all his money on liquor and once saw him assaulting Mr Caddick by “jumping and stamping” on his head.

Mr Caddick told an NHS worker in October 2012 how Eckersall assaulted him but described him as “the son I’ve never had” and his “only friend” in Wigan.

On November 25 last year Eckersall and Cunliffe, who had been drinking, arrived at Natalie Eckersall’s home and said Mr Caddick was sleeping it off.

He claimed Mr Caddick had grabbed him and threatened him with a knife and Eckersall head-butted him.

Mr Johnson said she saw Cunliffe “looked terrified” and concluded there was more to what had gone on.

That evening Eckersall rang 999 for help for Mr Caddick, saying he and Cunliffe had come back and found Mr Caddick in a pool of vomit and looking like he had banged his head.

The next day Eckersall allegedly told his ex-sister-in-law that he had disarmed Mr Caddick of a knife and head-butted him and then “flipped” and stamped on his head. He took his shoe off and showed her his blood-stained bare foot.

At hospital the victim was found to have multiple bruises to his face and body and also suffered traumatic brain injury caused by violent and rapid twisting of his head.

An expert said the level of force used was “extreme” and that forceful kicking or stamping must have been the cause. The attack had put him in a coma immediately. He never regain consciousness and died from pneumonia on March 13 this year in intensive care in Wigan Infirmary.

A police search of his flat uncovered a note signed by Cunliffe saying, “I am very sorry but shouldn’t have come at me with knife was in fear of my life.”

Distribution of blood found in the premises “was typical of someone having been assaulted while he had been lying on the floor”, alleged Mr Johnson.

There was no blood on Eckersall’s clothing but there were small ill-defined stains of Mr Caddick’s blood on Cunliffe’s trousers.

When interviewed Eckersall gave a statement saying Mr Caddick had put a knife under his chin and in fear he head-butted him and disarmed him. Mr Caddick then began ranting at Cunliffe and he saw Cunliffe punch him to the head three times.

In his interview Cunliffe said Mr Caddick was always falling over drunk. He claimed Mr Caddick had smashed him in the face with a tablet device and he defended himself with “a few slaps”. After he armed himself with a knife Eckersall disarmed him and Mr Caddick sat down and was all right and he and Eckersall then went out. They returned and found him unconscious.

He said he had expected Mr Caddick to find the note but was unable to explain why he had said he was sorry.