A YOUNG Warwick man caused the death a frail pensioner from a heart attack following a confrontation after banging on his window, a jury has been told.
Steven Jones, 25 then plotted with a group of friends to lie about the incident, and beat up a youngster who had co-operated with the police investigation, it is alleged.
Jones, who is from Warwick but of no fixed address, has pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to the manslaughter of 75-year-old William Heathcote in November 2014.
And three teenagers, Frankie McDonagh, 19, of Cherry Street, Warwick; Stephan Reilly, 19, of Willes Road, Leamington; and Paige Tomlinson, 18, of Mercia Way, Warwick, have all denied perverting the course of justice.
Jones also denies intimidating a teenage witness by assaulting and threatening him, knowing he was to be a witness.
Prosecutor Benjamin Aina QC told the jury Jones – who was with a group of friends aged 15 to 17, had banged on the window of Mr Heathcote’s Pickard Street home around 8.20pm on a Tuesday evening.
He said it had been part of a “campaign of banging on the windows of this address by local youths” aimed at harrassing Mr Heathcote – familiarly known as Bill.
Mr Aina added Mr Heathcote had suffered a stroke in 2007, and was a frail man.
He said Jones knew Mr Heathcote was inside, and knew he was elderly and frail, and that he had difficulty speaking and walking.
He added Jones knew Mr Heathcote had symptoms similar to those displayed by his own mother, who had suffered a stroke, and banging on the window was an intentional act of harassment “designed to bring a frail, poorly, elderly man out of his premises so that he could be taunted”.
And as a result the pensioner came out in a state of annoyance, without putting on socks or shoes, and holding a broom with the handle-end away from him, shouting at Jones to go away.
He began swinging the broom at Jones, who was laughing and knocking the broom away, but continuing to taunt Mr Heathcote.
At one point Mr Heathcote hit Jones on the shoulder with the broom, but Jones just laughed and then ran towards his young friends.
It was then Mr Heathcote suffered a heart attack and collapsed. He was taken to Warwick Hospital by ambulance, but was declared dead at 9.35pm.
Of the allegation faced by all four defendants of conspiring to pervert the course of justice, Mr Aina explained Jones had conspired with his friends to tell the police a lie about what had happened – blaming another group of unknown youths.
In addition, Jones was alleged to have assaulted a teenager who had made a statement to police about the incident and was to be a witness in the trial, with intent to intimidate him.
Mr Aina said there was a further charge of taking revenge on the teenager for assisting the police, which Jones had admitted.
After Mr Heathcote collapsed, the jury was told Jones, who seemed to be panicking, and others rushed over to the pensioner, and he began rubbing Mr Heathcote’s chest, before another person put him in the recovery position and called for an ambulance.
Paramedics attended the scene, but were unable to resuscitate him.
During the emergency call it was said Jones could be heard saying to get the police, adding ‘I’ll tell them it was me,’ which Mr Aina suggested ‘was confession evidence.’
But by the time the police arrived it had been agreed to say another group of youngsters had been responsible, allegedly to protect Jones – who the jury was told now says it was to protect the teenager – who he later assaulted – who he says was the one who banged the window.
But Mr Aina said Jones was the only one of the group wearing gloves that night, and forensic investigators found marks made by gloved hands either side of the spot on the window where Jones’s DNA was found.
The trial continues.