How we use Cookies

Two accused over death of war veteran

A HOUSEBOUND war veteran died after a burglary at his home during which just £30 was stolen.

TRAGIC victim James Allen - he died after breaking his hip.
TRAGIC victim James Allen - he died after breaking his hip.

A HOUSEBOUND war veteran died after a burglary at his home during which just £30 was stolen.

James Allen, 87, who fought in the Second World War, fell victim to thieves who believed he had thousands of pounds in a small bedroom safe.

The widower sustained a fractured hip when he was pushed roughly to the floor and died a fortnight later in hospital, a jury at Preston Crown Court was told.

Paul Dwyer of Tennyson Avenue, Oswaldtwistle, denies manslaughter and stealing £30 in the burglary at Mr Allen's home in Cobham Road, Accrington.

His co-defendant Graham Holden, 21, of Countess Street, Accrington, has pleaded guilty to the charges and will be sentenced at the end of the trial.

Howard Bentham QC, prosecuting, told the jury that Mr Allen kept his door unlocked and became the prey of the two men on the afternoon of Wednesday 15 October last year.

Dwyer thought he had a considerable amount of cash in his house and both defendants knew the occupant was elderly.

Holden kept watch while Dwyer went into the property. Mr Allen went to investigate a noise and was at the foot of the stairs when he saw a man he did not recognise.

Mr Bentham said: "It must have been a risk that Dwyer foresaw when he broke in. Mr Allen was pushed roughly to the floor. He was elderly and infirm and broke a bone in his hip. Dwyer persisted in his plan and stole money from the house, about £30, and left leaving Mr Allen on the ground."

Mr Allen managed to struggle upstairs, saw that his safe had been targeted and dialled 999.

In a statement before he died, Mr Allen described how he was pushed with some force, causing him to fall to the floor and leaving him in a "huge amount of pain". He told police: "I was shocked and upset by what had happened."

Holden told the jury he had known Dwyer for about eight months and was told there was "a few grand" at the house and that the occupant would be out.

He said he felt "uncomfortable" and that it was "dodgy". He added: "I was rattling - withdrawing from drugs."

Dwyer was in the house for 10 to 15 minutes while Holden kept watch and when he came out he was a bit panicky and said: "Let's go score."

They then went to get some heroin and returned to a drop-in centre.

Holden said he did not know Mr Allen's age and only knew about him when he was arrested a fortnight later.

The jury heard that Mr Allen, who had heart disease, died following surgery to replace his hip. His heart had stopped.

But in the closing speech to the jury the prosecution claimed that, but for the events at his home, he would have lived for some time.

Dwyer decided not to give evidence and the jury will consider verdicts after Mr Justice Leveson completes his summing-up.


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist