Fatal Wigan crash adds to alarming list of unlawful killing probes launched in the borough this year

An investigation into a three-car collision, which killed a mother of five, has become the latest in a startling series of unlawful death probes that have been launched in Wigan in the first four months of this year.


The first murder investigation was launched just days into 2019, following the death of Billy Livesley on December 28 2018. Billy, a 21-year-old expectant father, was found seriously injured on Bickershaw Lane, in Abram, at 9.35pm on Friday, December 28 and was rushed to hospital, where he died the following day.

The scene of a fatal collision in Bickershaw Lane

The scene of a fatal collision in Bickershaw Lane

A post-mortem examination showed he died from serious head injuries.

Peter Connor, 31, of no fixed address and 26-year-old Myles Connors, of Layton Street Caravan Park, have both been charged with murder and will face a judge and jury at Manchester Crown Court, Crown Square, on June 25 2019.

On February 23, 32-year-old Philip Rooney died of a stab wound following an incident in Platt Street, Leigh, around 11.45pm.

A murder investigation was launched and three people – two men aged 48 and 44 – as well as a 22-year-old woman were all arrested on suspicion of murder.

Billy Livesley

Billy Livesley

The woman and the younger man were later released with no further action.

Stephen John Brocklehurst, of Billinge Road, was subsequently charged with Mr Rooney's murder and is due to stand trial at Manchester Crown Court on September 23. He has been remanded in custody until that time.

Just days later, on February 28, 14-month-old Hollie Mae Ashurst was rushed to hospital from her home in Shevington, where she tragically died the next day. Hollie's father, 32-year-old Daniel Ashurst, has been charged with her murder. Currently remanded in custody, he is due to appear before a Manchester judge for a pre-trial preparation hearing on May 17 with a trial date set for October 2.

That same day, Michael Smith was travelling on Poolstock Lane at around 8.45pm, when he was hit by a vehicle which swerved off the road and ended up embedded in a van parked on a drive.

A scene in place in Platt Street, Leigh, after Philip Rooney died of stab wounds in February

A scene in place in Platt Street, Leigh, after Philip Rooney died of stab wounds in February

Following the collision, which involved a black Vauxhall Zafira, three people were arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

The alarming streak of violent incidents continued into March, with police launching a murder probe following the death of Debbie Twist. Shortly before 8pm on Sunday March 23, police were called by the ambulance service to reports that a woman had been stabbed at a property on Manchester Road, Leigh. Despite their best efforts, medics were unable to save her life.

A 39-year-old man who was arrested on suspicion of murder has been bailed pending further enquiries. A 37-year-old woman who was arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender was also bailed pending further enquiries.

The Easter weekend crash in Bickershaw Lane, occurred further down the same road where Billy Livesley was killed. Joanne Bailey-Collinge, a 34-year-old mother, was fatally injured when her car collided with two other vehicles, a VW Amarok and a Mercedes C2220. The Mercedes occupants remained at the scene, but the suspects in the Amarok forced another motorist to drive them away, and the vehicle was later found abandoned in Bolton House Road, Wigan.

Hollie Mae Ashurst

Hollie Mae Ashurst

The fast-moving investigation has so far seen charges of manslaughter, kidnap, death by dangerous driving, two counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and perverting the course of justice brought against 26-year-old Joseph Pownall, following Joanne's tragic death.

Steven Fairclough, 42, has also been charged with perverting the course of justice. Both men have been remanded in custody until an appearance at Bolton Crown Court on May 20.

Detectives moved swiftly following the incident and had earlier arrested three men, a 21-year-old and two 20-year-olds who had been in the Mercedes.

The 21-year-old and one of the 20-year-olds have been eliminated from the investigation into causing death by dangerous driving, but further arrested for criminal damage and released on bail.

The final 20 year old man remains in police custody on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

A fund-raiser has been set up to support Joanne's family, which can be donated to by visiting the Just Giving page.

Michael Smith was tragically killed in Poolstock Lane

Michael Smith was tragically killed in Poolstock Lane

Anyone with any information on these incidents is asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Debbie Twist was named as the victim of a stabbing in Leigh in March

Debbie Twist was named as the victim of a stabbing in Leigh in March

Joanne Bailey-Collinge was tragically killed last weekend in a fatal RTC

Joanne Bailey-Collinge was tragically killed last weekend in a fatal RTC