Steven McMyler murder trial: Wigan schoolboys refused £100 offer to attack dad-of-two, court hears
A pair of Wigan schoolboys were offered £100 each to assault a dad-of-two, before he was fatally attacked by a different gang, a court has heard.
Steven McMyler, 34, was targeted as he sat on a bench within the grounds of Wigan parish church in the early evening of August 6 last year.
Shortly before, the joiner had been drinking in a nearby town centre pub with another man, Lewis Peake, 29, who allegedly decided to rob the expensive 18-carat Submariner watch he was wearing.
Peake first tried to persuade two youths, aged 11 and 13 at the time, outside The Raven pub to help him rob Mr McMyler, offering them £100 each to assault Mr McMyler, Manchester Crown Court heard.
Today, the younger boy took to the witness box to reveal how they were approached at random as they passed Peake in the street.
The boys initially refused the offer but eventually went along with the plan out of fear that Peake would hurt them, the jury was told.
“All I remember him saying is ‘do you want to earn some money? If you batter that man over there I’ll give you 100 quid each, ‘cause I want to steal his watch,” the boy said.
The youngsters initially refused to go along with the attack, but later complied out of fear.
“We were scared of what he could do to us, so we said yes,” the boy said of Peake, adding: “I reckon we would’ve got hurt, because of wasting his time and saying no.”
The boys waited further down the road for a short while, before following Peake and Mr McMyler into the grounds of Wigan Parish Church.
Afraid of launching an assault on a grown man, the 11-year-old said he approached two passers-by in the alley linking the church gardens to Wallgate, offering them the cash to do the deed instead. They too refused and left the area.
Peake then allegedly whispered to one of the boys, telling him to carry out the assault in the next 10 minutes or get someone else to do it instead, at which point the boys left.
It was a short while later that four males from Merseyside – Jordan Short, 20, Michael Wilson, 20 and two youths aged 14 and 17, who had arrived in Wigan by train just minutes earlier, walked up to the entrance of the church garden where Mr McMyler died.
Peake, of James Street, Little Lever, Bolton; Wilson, of Northfield Close, Kirkby, and the two youths, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, all deny murder, an alternative count of manslaughter and conspiracy to rob.
On the first day of the trial, Prosecutor Mark Ford QC told the jury: “Purely by chance they were seen to encounter the other defendant, Peake, and the death of Mr McMyler would follow shortly.
“There is no suggestion that Peake was acquainted with these four people, who had travelled from Liverpool.”
A short discussion between them took place, and grainy CCTV footage captured the attack on Mr McMyler as he was surrounded by the group, the court heard.
Mr Ford continued: “Despite the poor quality of the footage, we say it is apparent that the defendants engaged in a joint enterprise to rob Mr McMyler.
“To put it in simple terms, we say they were all in it together.
“During the course of that incident Mr McMyler was kicked forcefully to the head. The Crown say that kick was delivered by Jordan Short.
“It is not thought that Mr McMyler ever regained consciousness after that kick.
“In the course of a violent robbery carried out, we say, by these five men, that watch was taken and the assault he suffered at their hands cost Steven McMyler his life.”
The prosecutor said matters took a “rather unpredictable turn” as Mr McMyler lay dying when the Liverpool group turned on Peake.
One of them, believed to be the youngest defendant – aged 13 at the time – struck him over the head with a bottle as they demanded cash.
After a bleeding Peake ran away they too dashed from the church, and were said to be “laughing or grinning” as they took a taxi back to Merseyside, said Mr Ford.
Jurors were told that Short was unwell and not able to participate in the trial.
The period before his death appeared to be “rather troubled” for Mr McMyler, said Mr Ford, as his relationship broke down with his partner, and his parents, James and Carole, were worried he was drinking too much and on occasion using drugs.
Mr McMyler had recently opted for a “clean break” by travelling to Thailand, but decided against it when he realised he needed to self-isolate for a fortnight because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He returned from London to his home on the afternoon of August 6 and still had his suitcase with him.
The court heard Peake later returned to the attack scene as Mr McMyler lay unconscious “with his face purple”, and did not check on him as he made off with his phone and suitcase.
When arrested, Peake denied he was involved with the watch robbery, and claimed he was a victim after the Liverpool group took £200 from him.
He said one of them had “volleyed” Mr McMyler to the head.
The trial is proceeding.
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