Wigan churchyard death trial: Gang convicted of dad-of-two's manslaughter

Four males accused of killing a dad-of-two in the grounds of Wigan Parish Church have been found guilty of manslaughter.

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 11:42 am

The four defendants have been on trial at Manchester Crown Square over the death of Steven McMyler, who died outside Wigan Parish Church on August 6 2020.

Lewis Peake, 30, of James Street, Little Lever, Bolton, Michael Wilson, 20, of Northfield Close, Kirkby, and two youths aged 14 and 17 from Merseyside who cannot be identified for legal reasons, have all been found guilty of manslaughter and conspiracy to rob.

All had previously faced charges of murder, which were dropped part way through the trial.

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Steven McMyler

Mr McMyler, 34, was kicked in the head with a “substantial level of force” as he sat on a bench within the church grounds. He was immediately rendered unconscious and he would have died in a matter of minutes, the trial was told.

Despite heroic efforts from a pair of passing teenagers who performed CPR, and the later efforts of paramedics, he could not be saved.

The jury heard that Mr McMyler was the victim of a plot, orchestrated by Peake, to rob his Rolex watch, which was worth an estimated £11,000.

Peake had first tried to persuade two schoolboys outside The Raven pub to help him rob Mr McMyler, and was said to have promised £100 to assault him, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Tributes at the scene of Mr McMyler's death last August

The offer was rejected, but Peake was not so easily deterred in the execution of his plan as he and Mr McMyler walked to the church gardens.

Four males from Merseyside – Jordan Short, 20, Michael Wilson, 20 and two youths aged 13 and 17 at the time, arrived at Wigan Wallgate train station at 7.12pm and seven minutes later walked up to the entrance of the church garden.

A short discussion between them and Peake took place, and grainy CCTV footage captured the attack on Mr McMyler as he was surrounded by the group, before he was "volleyed" in the head.

Matters took an unpredictable turn as Mr McMyler lay dying, when the Merseyside group turned on Peake.

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.

The four defendants will be sentenced on June 11.

Jordan Short, who is alleged to have delivered the fatal kick, did not participate in the trial due to illness, and will face a court at a later date.

Speaking after today's conviction, Detective Chief Inspector Cheryl Chatterton, Senior Investigating Officer, said: "Thankfully justice has today been served for Steven and his family who have gone through the most unimaginable heartache in the last nine months - not only losing Steven in horrendous circumstances, but then to relive it all through this trial.

"While today is justice for them, they will still not be able to get complete closure on this case until the final defendant faces trial in November later this year, where they will undoubtedly go through that trauma again. Their strength has been admirable and our thoughts remain with them.

"This investigation has been a complex and serious inquiry, and has required painstaking efforts from every one of our detectives involved in helping to get these verdicts today.

"Steven was killed just because he was wearing a valuable watch and these four offenders have now been recognised for the crimes that they have committed. They may have gone to Wigan that day to rob Steven's belongings, but they ultimately have robbed him and his loved ones of his life, and for that I am satisfied knowing that they will now be punished."

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